Playing Detective in The Garden


Mother Nature is great at camouflage. Lurking among the pretty leaves and flowers is this big ugly worm. I’ve seen them destroying tomato plants but never seen them on flower bushes. I noticed the big dark droppings and had to hunt them down. So far I’ve found three—hope that’s it!!



  1. Visited your garden.. i have had that monster on my trumpet tree… not sure of it’s name of the tree but they can eat till all I have is twigs left! They are sometimes hard to see.. my experience.. if there is one.. there are more.. I always send them to the light as they are destroyers of fine looking plants.. I did not have them this year.. Thank God…
    Hope your garden is enjoying all the rain as mine is.. nothing like mother natures blessing! PS… So nice that the neighbor was so informative! Wow wee… Hugs.. N & all my girls

  2. I was going to basically say what Patty said minus the scientific names.. which I never remember.. imo, though destructive, quickly the caterpillarsa ‘re cooler than the ugly moths, which only have size to make them interesting..

  3. Linda Landowski on

    I missed this! Heartfelt Thank you for starting this up and sharing again!! Sending our best to you~!

  4. sharon johnson on

    WOW, you found the big green monster, now I know it is not especially attractive, BUT you caught such interesting shots at how well it was adapted to the very source of it’s food..It boggles me that it is in it’s own way graceful like with its twist and turns…amazing photos AGAIN..thanks for the tour and sharing your bounty of knowledge, plant names)….back again soon

  5. It is so good to visit your garden again.
    I missed it for awhile & I am glad to explore it now.

  6. Patty, Thanks for all that wonderful information. We are keeping them away from the tomato plants.

  7. Mir, what you’ve got there is actually a relative of the Tomato Hornworm/5-Spotted Hawk Moth (Sphinx Moth), Manduca quinquemaculata. What you’re finding is the Tobacco Hornworm, Manduca sexta. You can ID this particular worm by counting it’s diagonal stripes. The Tobacco Hornworm/Carolina Sphinx Moth) has 7, the Tomato hornworm has 8 V-shaped markings and is colored a little differently. They are in the family Sphingidae. Both feed on plants in the Nightshade family (Solanaceae). And that particular behavior (feeding on Nightshade plants) is part of its defense system, making it poisonous to most predators. However, there is a parasitic wasp that can lay its eggs on the worm, and thus as eggs hatch, kill the worm. Once transformed into its adult form as moth, they are very large (about 4″ wing span) and pollinate certain night-blooming flowers, like the Night-Blooming Cereus. But, they can defoliate a tomato plant overnight, so often gardeners will go out after dark with a black light to find them, as they fluoresce, thus easier to find and pick off.