Keith Kridler, Texas

Tomato Hornworm Pupa photo

September 14, 2010

Categories: Fertility, Growing Daffodils, Hybridizing, Landscapes and Naturalized Daffodils, Non-Daffodil, Soil

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Sorry to be off topic again but that is a photo of the pupa from tomato hornworm caterpillars or one of the species of Sphinx moths or “hummingbird” moths. I took these as larva off of tomato plants and raised/continued to feed them up to full size in a 20 gallon fish aquarium.
These aquariums are filled 14″ deep 35 CM with moist potting soil that is mostly just damp peat moss. The mature caterpillars all tunneled down to the very bottom of this “soil” to pupate. If you notice the third pupa from the top is filled with the pupa of a parasitic wasp that ate the hornworm alive. The pupa from these wasps look about the size of rat pellets:-)) I use these aquariums to study all sorts of insects and caterpillars that we find locally and they are sealed up pretty tightly so the adult wasps had a hard time getting to these pupa to lay eggs on them!
Texas Gardener magazine is doing an article on daffodils this fall/winter. It is about finding “naturalized” daffodils along the county roads of East Texas. This is one of three of my photos that they will use in the magazine this fall. The photo shows n. Jonquilla just north of Pine Mills Texas growing along State Highway 14. Now if I can only find the other two photos that they want!
Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas where daffodils are busy growing roots and beginning to sprout. Our LOWEST temperatures for the last 36 days has only been down to 67*F (20*C) and only for 30 minutes!

3 responses to “Tomato Hornworm Pupa photo”

  1. Clay Higgins says:


    That reminds me of the battles we had with those when I was a kid down on the farm in Southern Arkansas trying to raise a cash crop called “Tomatoes.”

    They were not so cute and cuddly them.  More like the ENEMY.


    Clay Higgins

  2. Melissa Reading says:

    Keith: Nice photos! My understanding (and experience) is that the wasp lays eggs on the caterpillar stage. This makes sense since the skin of the caterpillar is so much more tender than the skin of the pupa, which is quite stiff. This would explain why despite your sealing, the pupae of the wasps appeared in one of your hornworm pupae. Melissa
    At 04:33 AM 9/14/2010, Keith Kridler wrote:

  3. John Beck says:

    Great to see the photos- will you get the adults as well?
    My understanding is that some of the parasites actually
    cause the caterpillar to pupate when the parasites are
    ready to do so- this is obviously not the case with the
    ones I usually see which form coccoons on the surface
    of the living caterpillar. I have heard that most parasites
    are quite specific, but not so the ones that feed on butterflies
    and moths- they seem to need an alternative host when they
    hatch out in the wrong season for the one we see them eating
    – causes problems with the gypsy moths as I have heardsome of the
    introduced parasites I have heard prefer the native butterflies as hosts