moth

blueirismoon(6a)August 14, 2011

I live in middle tn.This moth is about the size of a humming bird.Does any body know what it is. It sure loved my moon flowers.

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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Looks like Manduca quinquemaculata, or Five-Spotted Hawk Moth, or Tomato Hornworm moth. As indicated, it's larval food is primarily tomatoe foliage, but will also eat Datura, Eggplant, Potato, etc., in the same family of Solanaceae. I love them, and always have food for them. The caterpillars get quite large.

Beautiful shot of yours!

Susan

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 8:26AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Love your photo. That's quite a long proboscis!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 9:50AM
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TomatoWorm59

You've got it, Susan. It's M. quinquemaculata. That moth IS the primary pollinator of Datura or your moonflower! NEVER remove or harm the big hornworms you will find feeding on that Datura, either. They are part of the plant's life cycle, too. The moth is reponsible for pollination of seeds to preserve the species and reproduce the plant, which is itself, a perennial. The hornworms are simply its larvae and they depend on the Datura's abundant leaves as food, so they can become the moths that help the plant make its seed. It's called mutualism, one of the 3 known symbioses.

By the way, if Susan and I are correct about the true ID of the moth, the hornworms you find, will be medium green with 7 double or V-shaped oblique stripes. The cats will feel tough and leathery, too.

Keep us posted on your search for hornworms and please post pics of them, too.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 10:48AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

TW,

Glad you're back. I'm a late-comer to the Garden Forum. Had to retire first. Love the information you share. When I can learn something, the day isn't a waste!

Sandy

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 11:16AM
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TomatoWorm59

Thank you, Sandy.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 6:50PM
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blueirismoon(6a)

I shot this picture about a month ago not knowing what it was at the time. It was on my tomato plant, amazing how it can turn into such a different looking creature.

http://i1222.photobucket.com/albums/dd486/nmjw/hornworm-1.jpg

Thanks for all the info.I tried last night to take some more shots of the moth but could not get a good one.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 6:00AM
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TomatoWorm59

Thanks for the feedback. The larva is a tobacco hornworm or six-spotted hawkmoth. Your adult moth still looks more like a five-spotted. To give you an example of just how closely related they are, both species are in the same genus. The five-spotted hawkmoth is Manduca quinquemaculata. The six-spotted is M. sexta. Sextas are also called "Carolina sphinx."

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 8:05PM
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