Return to the Butterfly Garden Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Raising Tomato Hornworm

Posted by dlguyer Indiana (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 19, 09 at 23:07

I found a tomato hornworm eating my tomatoes in my garden. It is about 3-4" long. I would really like to try to raise it so that my kids can watch it grow. Can you please tell me how to do this? I really need to know ground up info as I know nothing about them.

I have read that I need 3-4" of dirt in the bottom of his "cage".

-Does the "cage" need a lid on it if no plants are reaching out of the top?
-Does it need water to drink or just spray the leaves with water or just eat leaves?
-How long does it take for them to become a moth?
-We are in Indiana, will they wait until spring to become moths or still go sometime this summer?
-He is pooping a lot! Do you clean that out of the "cage" or leave it?

I've only read a little bit about him on other sites, so sorry if some of these questions seem silly! :) Thank you, my kids are VERY excited about trying to keep him.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Raising Tomato Hornworm

Your questions are not silly. They are so much fun to raise. You will be surprised as they become beautiful moths (I think).

Feed them tomato leaves in a container with approx 4" to 5" of dirt. When it gets ready to finish being a caterpillar it will bury itself in the dirt. Keep in the garage all winter in a safe place. Take out come spring. As the weather warms it will emerge.

The poop is called frass. It should be cleaned up as much as possible. Give fresh leaves daily. No need to give water or spray.

I added pictures to give you ideas of what to expect.


It's the dark brown cocoon.

Sorry, I don't have a picture of the moth but they are really big and beautiful.


RE: Raising Tomato Hornworm

Thank you so much for the information! A few more questions...

-I have read somewhere about there sometimes being two generations of moths in a summer. Is it too late for these to be a first generation do you think? Im just wondering if it might be possible if this guy will be a moth before this summer ends.

-Will they crawl up the sides of a plastic box? I have a great container for them but not sure what to cover it with. I want him to have enough air but not to get out.

-Will they eat anything besides tomato leaves?

Thanks again! My kids are so excited about having him. :)

RE: Raising Tomato Hornworm

Whomever put that pic on the web messed up. That is a tobacco hornworm. It does eat tomato leaves, just like a tomato hornworm. Both eat members of the nightshade family, such as ground cherry and horse-nettle. If you have a tobacco hornworm, some pet stores sell a processed food for them (I don't know whether tomato hornworms will eat it).

Decent chance the cat will crawl up the sides and out when it is ready to pupate so I would have something over the top. Don't worry too much about them having enough air. If you are changing the leaves once a day, the cat will have enough oxygen.

Since you live in Indiana, I'd say there is no way you will have a moth this year (unless you overwinter it inside, then anything is possible).

Trying to find a pic of a tomato hornworm was more challenging that I thought it would be. One of the Wikipedia pics is actually a rustic sphinx.

Here is a link that might be useful: Five-spotted hawkmoth AKA tomato hornworm

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Butterfly Garden Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here