Tobacco Hornworm

Manduca sexta

Pupa of a Tobacco Hornworm Sphinx, Manduca sexta, photo © by Mike Plagens

This pupa was found beneath a layer of dead leaves in a Phoenix, Arizona garden. Sept. 2010.

Photo © by Michael Plagens

This full grown caterpillar of the Carolina Sphinx, also known as the Tobacco Hornworm, was found feeding on the leaves of Sacred Datura (Datura metaloides) in my Phoenix yard, Maricopa Co., Arizona. Sept. 28, 2002.

Sphingidae -- Sphinx Moth Family

All holometabolous insects, including moths, have four unique life stages. First is the egg from which the second stage larva emerges. In moths and butterflies the larva is often referred to as a caterpillar. Once a larva has reached its full size it must find a safe place to undergo metamorphosis. This, the third stage, has the appendages covered by a tough and rather smooth exoskeleton. Some of the adult structures can be seen in outline, for example, here the long nectar-feeding proboscis looks like a handle. Unable to defend or to flee the pupa must usually remain hidden inside a cocoon or beneath the soil until the transformation is complete and the adult and final stage ecloses.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 19 Oct. 2011,
updated 14 Aug. 2016.