A combination of two species of hornworms, “tomato hornworms” includes both the tomato hornworm and tobacco hornworms. As adults these hornworms are Five-Spotted Hawk Moth and the Carolina Sphinx Moth respectively. Tomato Hornworms are common garden pests commonly found on tomato, eggplant and other nightshade family plants. Tobacco hornworms are the species most commonly found east of the Rocky Mountains. The hornworms primarily feed on the leaves of the plants, although fruits may also be chewed. Rapid stripping of the plant may occur during these infestations. A few distinct differences in the appearance of each species make them easily identifiable. Tomato hornworms “horn” is dark green with black sides and they have white V shaped markings along the sides of the caterpillar. Meanwhile, tobacco hornworms have a red “horn” with diagonal striping. Differentiation is more difficult in the adult form where wavy bands on the back wings of the moth are separated on the Five-Spotted Hawk Moth and fused on the Carolina Sphinx. White marks on the abdomen of the tomato hornworm’s Five-Spotted Hawk Moth are more angular in shape than that of the Carolina Sphinx.
Eggs are laid on the upper portion of plant leaves and are pearl-like. When larvae hatch they begin rapidly consuming foliage. Their bodies are typically a bright green, although dark green variations also occur with the white markings distinct to their species. When larval growth is completed they move away from the plants and pupate in the soil. Two generations may occur during the year. The first has over-wintered in the pupal form and hatches as an adult moth in May-June, whereas the second generation appears as caterpillars in July and August. Biological and insecticidal control methods are both available over-the-counter; however manual removal is often utilized at dawn and dusk when activity is highest.