Manduca sexta, or the Tobacco Hornworm, is among the largest moth and caterpillar in North America. Due to their large size, they can be a problem in gardens containing tobacco and tomato plants.
Like many of the Hawk Moth family members, M. sexta is an excellent flyer. Yearly conditions can influence the rate of infestations across the continent.
Unlike most insects, Tobacco Hornworms can metabolise nicotine. Any neonicotinoid pesticide won't work on this garden pest.
The caterpillars sequester the toxin while they feed on the leaves of the tobacco plants. This makes them poisonous to things like spiders and birds.
The Tobacco and Tomato Hornworm are incredibly alike in their behaviour and appearance, so they can be challenging to tell apart.
The Tobacco Hawk Moth is the most abundant in southern states of America, whereas the Tomato Moth is more common in the North.