Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fly Attack on a "Tomato" Hornworm

I'm not sure exactly what's going on here, but I seen it several times before. The fly makes repeated attacks on the hornworm. My best guess is that the fly is trying to lay eggs, but I'm really not sure.

We've recently been under siege by the hornworms. They are a yearly event, but this year there seems to be more of them and they've been a problem longer. Our total "kill" of hornworms has got to be well over 100. There were several days that we picked off and squashed over a dozen. Hopefully, the hornworm invasion is coming to an end. Last evening we only found two.

By the way, the hornworm pictured above isn't actually a "tomato" hornworm, even though that's what everyone (including me) calls them. The caterpillar pest most often found consuming tomato plants is actually a tobacco hornworm, the larvae of a Carolina Sphinx moth.
A tomato hornworm is the larvae of a Five-Spotted Hawk moth. The quick and easy way to tell the difference between the two is that a tobacco harnworm has a red "tail" while the tomato hornworm's tail is black. There are also slight differences in the pattern of the strips.


Anonymous said...

It's possible that the fly is a tachinid fly, I believe they lay eggs in caterpillars - then gruesomely the fly larvae eat the caterpillar. Nice shot!

Marvin said...

Thanks. I think you're correct.