Sunday, October 05, 2014

The Tobacco Hornworm - Manduca sexta

Tobacco Hornworm, Manduca sexta, feeding on tomato leaves.  The tobacco hornworm feeds on plants in the family Solanaceae, including tobacco, tomatoes and plants in the morning glory genus, Datura.  The tobacco hornworm is apparently able to isolate and store Nicotine ingested from its tobacco host (note that tomatoes also contain a nicotine alkaloid called tomatine) and excretes Nicotine, which is toxic to most animals, as a deterrent to predation.  The Tobacco hornworn may be distinguished from the Tomato Hornworn via the white diagonal stripes and red horn on the Tobacco hornworm versus the V-Shaped white markings and black horn on the Tomato hornworm.  This particular worm stripped a 3 foot tall tomato plant nearly bare of leaves in about a weeks time, before I finally found him holding tightly to a stem.

No comments: