The caterpillars of certain sphinx moths are known as hornworms. Tobacco and tomato plants are particularly vulnerable.
An agricultural expert writes: “Take notice of the hornworm caterpillar before you destroy them. If the caterpillars are covered with oval white objects attached to the skin by one end, do not kill the caterpillar. They are cocoons of the parasitic (and beneficial) braconid wasp. The female wasp lays her eggs inside the body of the hornworm, when the larvae hatch, they feed for awhile inside the caterpillar before moving outside to spin cocoons on the body of the hornworm. If left along, these parasitic wasps will emerge to feed on other hornworms. Almost seems sadistic, but this is nature's way.”
Related information is posted on the Ash Sphinx, the Rustic Sphinx, and the White-lined Sphinx.
Copyright © 2001–2007 William T. Hathaway.