Five-spotted hawkmoth, Tomato Hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata)

Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Sphingidae
Genus: Manduca
Species: quinquemaculata


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Greensboro, Alabama
Vincent, Alabama
Queen Creek, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Conway, Arkansas
Harrison, Arkansas
Marion, Arkansas
Apple Valley, California
Ceres, California
Chatsworth, California
Lancaster, California
Napa, California
San Diego, California
Bethel, Delaware
Brooksville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Key West, Florida
Lake Mary, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Orange Park, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Byron, Georgia
Kennesaw, Georgia
Jeffersonville, Indiana
Macy, Indiana
Valparaiso, Indiana
Toddville, Iowa
Benton, Kentucky
Caneyville, Kentucky
Coushatta, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Lebanon, Maine
South China, Maine
Wayland, Massachusetts
Grass Lake, Michigan
New Lothrop, Michigan
Savage, Minnesota
Kansas City, Missouri
Lebanon, Missouri
Weston, Missouri
Aurora, Nebraska
Silver Springs, Nevada
Newton, New Hampshire
Cape May Court House, New Jersey
Perrineville, New Jersey
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Elephant Butte, New Mexico
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bronx, New York
Raleigh, North Carolina
Stilwell, Oklahoma
Mountville, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
Charlestown, Rhode Island
Pelzer, South Carolina
Seneca, South Carolina
Beech Bluff, Tennessee
Brownsville, Tennessee
Abilene, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Houston, Texas (2 reports)
Liberty Hill, Texas
Lumberton, Texas
Plano, Texas
Wichita Falls, Texas
American Fork, Utah
Stafford, Virginia
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Chester, West Virginia
Show all

Members' Notes:


On Aug 3, 2019, GeorgeSMyers from Bronx, NY wrote:

We have them in The Bronx, NYC on our tomatoes. I have a camera that detects movement and the hawkmoth, others have been hummingbird hawk moth in daylight, seems to prefer to fly at night and might be attracted to the infra-red LEDs on the camera. I thought it was a small bat, its wings "too fast" for digital video. Solved my bat thing, but there are at least seven species of bats observed in the Bronx. My friend sprayed for white flies and picked off the hornworm.


On Sep 8, 2009, HefesWife77 from Hobart, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

We found these critters eating our tomato plants in crazy fast time! Took only a few days for 2 caterpillars to take out our small garden of tomato plants. Now they have become the highlight of my daughters' (2 & 5yrs) attention. We fashioned a cage for them and stocked them with tomato leaves. The caterpillars have only been in there for a day or so and seem to be getting ready to make their change. Can't wait to see the moths and add them to our bug collection!!


On Jun 30, 2008, teresacrooks from Lake Mary, FL wrote:

Last Fall, I found three cacoons for a huge moth at the base of my duranta and searched for weeks because I never saw the cats on the duranta although it did decline and eventually die from the attack. I never found any moth that showed the duranta as a host so I was never really sure. I let those live and hatch but never saw the actual moths either so wasn't sure but thought it was a tersa sphinx moth. I have been planting at my home all last Fall and this Spring, spending hundreds of dollars and in the past two days, I pulled 10 tomato hornworms off my three georgeous new double purple "ballerina" daturas, didn't have a clue they would be bait for the moths when they hatched! Now my daturas are destroyed and I have seven brugmansias that will be next if I don't do something!!! UGH!! ... read more


On Jun 1, 2008, Julieee from Austin, TX wrote:

Just found two caterpillers on a couple of my tomato plants and tossed 'em to the birds. They'd almost completely defoliated my Cosmonaut Volkov's, and were moving on to the Purple Cherokee and the Aunt Lillian's Yellow when I finally spotted 'em. perhaps they have been doing their jobs and that's why I had only two. Destructive little buggers, beautiful though they might be. I agree, Death to Tomato Hornworms!


On Dec 23, 2007, Lily_love from Central, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

I don't mind the caterpillars. It's very interesting to watch their behavior. I was their advocate long before I knew what they would morphed into a helpful Moth that helps pollinate many of your flowers in the garden. I love tomatoes too, but my neighbor raise better crop of tomatoes, and the supermarkets also are doing their very best to provide wonderful tomatoes for consumption. My volunteered tomatoes are there for their (moths) enjoyment. Infact, if you raise brugs, planting tomatoes to divert the moths to your fast growing tomatoe plants while keeping your brugs for your enjoyment - now, that isn't a bad idea!


On Oct 27, 2007, domino1718 from Aurora, NE wrote:

I found him in me and my gradmas garden, and i just love watching him and watching him eat. he eats so fast he seems like hes on staroids!!!! when he eats tomatos
hahaha lol


On Sep 15, 2007, kmom246 from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have grown "sacrificial" tomato plants for these beauties for the last few years. When I find a cat on the "people" plants, they go to the "cat" plants. That way I can enjoy my toms and the moths both. I have seen them drinking nectar off of my sunflowers at dusk. My sunflower leaves also have holes in them and frass that looks awfully suspicious - it may be that sunflowers are hosts, also, although I have not actually seen any cats on them.


On Apr 29, 2007, TexasPuddyPrint from Edinburg, TX wrote:

Can't help but be amazed at the size of this moth. About the only time I see them is when they come to the security light and perch on the brickwork. The caterpillars are voracious eaters and can do some serious damage to tomato plants...but I don't mind...I don't like tomatoes :o)

~ Cat


On Feb 23, 2007, Whitewidower from Greensboro, AL wrote:

I think what I will do this year when I find these things on my tomato plant I will save them and see if they make good fishing worms. My Grandboys will live to test this for me. I hate to see the damage they do to my tomatos.


On Sep 9, 2006, Greenthumbe from Scripps Ranch, (San Diego), CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This grotesque thing is awful. It comes right in and chows down on my tomatos I worked so hard for. They are extreemly destructive. Death to tomato hornworms.


On Aug 23, 2006, mummu from Lebanon, ME (Zone 4b) wrote:

Actually, I love to watch the moths and have up til recently welcomed them in my flower garden UNTIL I found out about their children. My 2nd most hated garden foe (after Japanese Beetles) is the tomato hornworm. I picked at least a hundred over a week's time off my 16 tomato plants. They tried to bite me, some did, and my chickens wouldn't even eat them when I collected a few dozen for them as a treat. So I gave up and Rotenoned them. I try to be an organic gardener as much as possible, but this year there were no little white eggs attached to even one hornworm. So next year I'll move the tomatoes again and hope for the best. I still like to watch the moths.


On Aug 11, 2006, delmarvalicious from Bethel, DE wrote:

I found this Five Spotted Hawkmoth in my Dad's garden in Sussex County Delaware about dusk and was very lucky to capture it in flight. What an interesting moth.I was amazed to see how long the proboscis is. It's too funny, where he was feeding was less than 20 feet from my fathers 9 foot tall tomato plants!! I'm going to try and upload some pictures. Enjoy!!


On Aug 10, 2006, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Since my favorite plant to grow is the tomato, I can't stand these caterpillars. They can strip a tomato plant overnight and cause plenty of damage to other Solanaceae.

The only way they don't get squished, is when they are sporting the wasp pupae. I simply remove them from the veggie garden and let them exist to produce more wasps. They're goners in a few days anyway, and if they can't get to my tomato plants, then I figure the wasps will hatch and go find other Tomato Hornworms.


On Jul 29, 2006, kennedyh from Churchill, Victoria,
Australia (Zone 10a) wrote:

This lovely hawkmoth is unfortunately a major pest of Tomato plants. It's caterpillar is commonly known as the Tomato Hornworm.


On Jul 29, 2006, onalee from Brooksville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I LOVE to watch the hawkmoths in my yard, and the five-spotted hawkmoth is one of the most common ones I have. They are amazing to watch, like little hummingbirds (also called hummingbird moths) dashing from flower to flower in the early evening and night time hours. I always make sure I plant plenty of host and nectar plants for them (which can often be the same plant - they love datura and brugmansia for both host and larval foods!).