The name of the Tobacco Hornworm Moth partially stems from its caterpillar form. The green bodied, chubby, hairless caterpillar has a reddish-brown horn-like projection at the end of it. It also has black and white diagonal stripes running diagonally from its back down the sides, each ending with an eyespot. While these caterpillars eat tobacco plants, they also attack the foliage of potato and tomato plants. They are considered huge pests in agricultural and backyard garden communities. They have voracious appetites and can lay waste to healthy tomato plants in just a few days, devouring leaves and stems with ease. Watch how quickly one caterpillar can consume plant tissue here:
Tobacco Hornworms, as the caterpillars are called, resemble Tomato Hornworms. Both caterpillars are hairless and green with plump bodies and spiky 'horns' at their rear. The Tobacco Hornworm, however, has seven white diagonal stripes while the Tomato Hornworm has eight white V-shaped stripes.
Adults are called 'tobacco flies' even though they are moths. They are most active from midsummer to late autumn. Adults drink the nectar from honeysuckle and petunia flowers. The Tobacco Hornworm Moth has six pairs of yellow (or orange) spots on of its furry abdomen. The wings are hairy and mostly mottled patches of brown and black save for a bit a yellow on the forewings.
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Common name: Tobacco Hornworm Moth
Scientific Name: Manduca sexta
Other Names: Tobacco Fly, Carolina Sphinx Moth, Six-Spotted Sphinx Moth
Adult Size (Length): 90mm to 115mm (3.54in to 4.53in) COMPARE
Identifying Colors: black; gray; brown; white
General Description: flying, harmful
North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Arkansas; California; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; North Carolina; Ohio; Pennsylvania; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Mexico
* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.