Tobacco Fly

By William T. Hathaway

Tobacco Fly

The Five-spotted Hawkmoth and the Carolina Hawkmoth are similar in shape and color. For this reason most farmers refer to them as the “Tobacco Fly.” The caterpillars of both species feed on tomato, potato, and tobacco plants; consequently, we have local names such as Tomato Hornworm and Tobacco Hornworm.

When the fully grown caterpillars (hornworms) crawl down to the ground, they form a strange-looking underground, cocoon-like structure, as illustrated in the center photograph at right.

Hornworm populations can be controlled by massive spraying or seasonal plowing, but the hornworms are large and are often handily picked off of host plants. There circulates among farmers a report of how some field workers enjoy biting off the heads of these juicy hornworms.