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Tomato (Tobacco) Hornworm
Sphinx (Hawk, Hummingbird) Moth

Manduca sexta

Most who have ever grown tomatoes have seen this creature devouring their precious plants.  The "official" common names, tomato hornworm, and tobacco hornworm, have been flip flopped between the species Manduca sexta and M. quinquemaculata.   So the correct name depends on the date of publication.

Tomato Worm, Manduca sextaThis tomato worm on one of my tomato plants, is about 10 cm. long.

Tomato Worm, Manduca sextaThis look at the tail end of the caterpillar clearly shows  the black and white markings, and the red horn.

Tomato Worm, Manduca sextaWhen the caterpillar curls its front end up in this  "sphinx"  position, it looks like it has a much larger head  and mouth  than it does.  Annoy it a little more and you  can hear  clicking of the mouth parts.  (You don't want  them to  click on your finger.)

Tomato Worm, Manduca sextaThe caterpillar burrows into the ground to pupate.

Tomato Worm, Manduca sextaHere is an adult moth.  It had to dig its way to the surface  before it could expand its wings.

Tomato Worm, Manduca sextaIn this eye to eye view, you can see the long proboscis  tightly curled under the head.  When straightened, it  allows the moth to feed from deep flowers while  hovering like a humming bird.

[Taxonomy : Classification ]
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