Hornworms earn their common name by the hornlike structure at the tail end of the caterpillar. The tomato hornworm is actually the larva of the Five spotted hawk moth (Manduca quinquemaculata), whereas, the tobacco hornworm develops into a tobacco hawk moth or Carolina sphinx moth (Manduca sexta).
Typically, the tomato hornworm is found in the northern part of the United States, while the tobacco hornworm is found in the southern. Not sure how north Missouri is defined, but all i’ve ever seen on my tomato plants are tobacco hornworms. Hornworms are not defined by what they are eating, however, since they tend to defoliate potato plants, eggplants, moonflowers, peppers, as well as tomato and tobacco.
Eggs deposited on the plant hatch into larvae in about a week in late spring, grow to maturity at about 10 cm (3-4 inches), then drop to the ground to pupate into moths. They overwinter near the host plant – ready to infest the next year’s crop.
Control of the hornworms is essential if you want any crop production. On smaller garden plots like mine (only 25 tomato plants), i pluck them off by hand and feed them to the laying hens.
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