Alternative use of hornworms
I saw someone had a question about hornworms on tomatoes and I wanted to share how I deal with them. The most common hornworm encountered on tomatoes is actually the Tobacco Hornworm Manduca sexta and becomes the Carolina Sphinx. It has lines angled in one direction like the caterpillar in my icon. The Tomato Hormworm Manduca quinquemaculatais much rarer. Here is a nice picture. These guys have V lines and become smaller Five Spotted Hawk Moths. I worked in a butterfly house for four years and learned to raise different types of butterflies and moths there. The sphinx were always my own special project since they were part of the display. So what I do is once moth season starts in late spring to early summer I check my tomatoes for eggs and tiny larva everyday. When I find them I pick them off and set them up in tanks. Here is how I set my tanks up.
What's nice about doing this is you can prune your plant at the same time for those of you that like to cut off the suckers. I choose what the bugs eat not the other way around and I control how much foliage my plants have. This is also a great project for kids to learn about metamorphosis. The most difficult thing about raising sphinx moths of any kind though is you need to have a seperate tank with at least nine inches of soil for them to pupate in. The caterpillars need to dig down to become coccoons.
Here are two more videos about how I raised one specific caterpillar.
They do eat alot so be prepared to giving them two meals of leaves once they get into their final instars (molts). They produce a lot of poops (frass) as well which can be put back in the garden as fertilizer. Another alternative if you don't want to get hands on with bugs is to set up a tomato plant just for the bugs to have the way we do with milkweed for monarchs. The moths they become are great pollinators. I love these guys and I also have pleanty of nectar plants like Four O'Clocks which they love. These flowers open in the evening and through the night so they are perfect for the adult moths and they smell very nice. It's like having nocturnal hummingbirds buzzing about. Enjoy.