Tomato hornworm. Photo: Ann Whitman
These voracious feeders devour the leaves and fruits of all tomato-family plants including peppers, eggplants and potatoes.
The fat, bright green caterpillars that can be alarmingly large, often measuring more than 3″ long and 1/2″ in diameter. The adult form of this pest is the rather spectacular sphinx moth, which is grayish-brown with orange spots on the body and a 4–5″ wingspan.
The moths appear in late spring to early summer and lay their greenish-yellow eggs on the undersides of leaves. The caterpillars feed for about a month and then crawl into the soil where they overwinter in brown, spindle-shaped pupal cases. There is one generation per year in the North; two or more in the South, and they are found throughout North America.
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