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It this good or bad?

Posted by wally-1936 8b (My Page) on
Sat, Nov 9, 13 at 9:25

They look like they are killing my caterpillar or is this a good ting?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: It this good or bad?

Good or bad? Good if you have a tomato plant and the critter eating them is being eliminated. Bad if you are the Hornworm and are already dead (you just don't know it yet).

What you have is a Hornworm covered with Braconid Wasp larvae, and Callicarpa berries in the fall. Whether it is good or bad depends on your perspective. Are you growing plants or hornworms?


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RE: It this good or bad?

Actually those are not wasp eggs (the most common explanation) or larvae, but are the cocoons from which adult wasps will emerge.

By the time you see the cocoons, the hornworm (in this case a tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta) is missing enough of his interior that he is incapable of moving or eating. So -- unless you like hornworms or the Carolina sphinx moths they become -- leave the situation alone until you see the ends of the cocoons have popped open. That's the sign that the tiny wasps have emerged to battle the next generation of hornworms. (They have no interest in attacking people.)

[The tomato hornworm, Manduca quinquemaculata (the five-spotted hawkmoth), can be distinguished from the tobacco hornworm by the white markings on their sides. Tobacco = diagonal lines, tomato = sideways V's. [To remember which is which: the tobacco hornworm has diagonal lines, which are straight like cigarettes. Also, the tip of the "tail" is red rather than black.]

Whether it is good or bad depends on your perspective. Are you growing plants or hornworms?

Oh, you haven't lived till you've read the threads which ensued when militant hornworm-growers posted in the Tomato Forum....


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RE: It this good or bad?

If the caterpillar has actually been feeding on beautyberry, it's probably not a tobacco hornworm, but Manduca rustica, the Rustic Sphinx moth caterpillar. Clearly, a very close relative but they don't share the same host plants.


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RE: It this good or bad?

Thank you all, so it is both bad and good. I love my caterpillars and my wasp so I am in the middle. The moth would would have been pollination some of my moon flowers but the wasp take care of other problems for my garden.


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RE: It this good or bad?

Wally, it's likely that if you have one of the Rustic Sphinx Moth caterpillars, you have plenty. They are more of a general feeder than some of the other hornworms making them more adaptable. The moths are beautiful.


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