Please see photo, via link below. We caught a few of these guys today,
crawling around on the tomato plant vines. Wonder if anybody can
advise what the white things are, attached to the caterpillar's back.
Wow. Haven't seen one of those since I was a little kid in Pennsylvania.
It used to be my job to go out to the garden every morning and pick them
off of the tomato plants and toss them into the burn barrel. What you've
got is a tomato hornworm. Nice picture by the way. And I think that the
white "pods" on it means that it has been parasitized by one of its
predators but I'll leave that for someone else to verify.
The things on their backs are your friends. Do not destroy the
caterpillar, nor them. Let them do their thing and hatch.
"Tomato hornworm larvae are also parasitized by a number of insects.
One of the most common is a small braconid wasp, Cotesia congregatus.
Larvae that hatch from wasp eggs laid on the hornworm feed on the
inside of the hornworm until the wasp is ready to pupate. The cocoons
appear as white projections protruding from the hornworms body (see
photo, left). If such projections are observed, the hornworms should be
left in the garden to conserve the beneficial parasitoids. The wasps
will kill the hornworms when they emerge from the cocoons and will seek
out other hornworms to parasitize."
Those are parasites on the tomato hornworm's back. If I find a hornworm with
parasites in my garden I usually move it somewhere it won't harm my plants
and leave it alone so the parasites will increase in number.
I was able to find the worms on our tomatoes last year by
looking up from the huge piles of poo they drop.
I'd never seen them before, and was amazed at the damage a
few of them could do in a day.
Great picture. Those may be wasp larvae, which compel the caterpillar
to eat to oblivion. Yes, tomato hornworms will eat tomato plants to
nothing in one day. You were lucky - you caught the sucker when it was
big enough to spot. The younger one-inch ones are much more difficult
What you have on your "tomato horn worm" are eggs of a parasitic wasp
that is very beneficial. They live on the host worm and suck the
juices out of it. Actually, you want more of these egg cases. The
horn worm is very destructive to your tomato plants so nobody wants
them. If you leave the ones alone that have the egg attachments in a
few days they will die.
The wasps hatch and go about their business of laying eggs on more
The horn worm is the caterpillar of the sphinx moth or "tobacco bug"
or tobacco moth as sometimes it's called. They almost look like
humming birds the way they suck nectar from flowers and hover over a
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