A Little Summer Nature Study :: Tomato Hornworm with Parasites

While we were taking care of our vegetable garden, we found this little caterpillar. We didn't know at the time what type it was, but thought best to bring him to the field, in a home that would suit us better. I was curious to know what kind it was though, so last night Adrienne and I did a bit of googling.
We found out that the caterpillar is the Tomato Hornworm and by itself is actually quite a threat to the garden. It likes to eat the leaves of tomato plants as well as pepper plants and others. I found our orange sweet peppers had big holes in them a few days ago. Now I am pretty sure it was from this guy, as there were black droppings all around the pepper plants too.
The little white things you see all over the hornworm are parasites. They are the eggs of a small species of wasps. Once the eggs hatch, they feed on the caterpillar and also on any other hornworm catterpillars that might be around, which turns this into a helpful critter for the garden!

How interesting that a parasite can be a good thing!
You can read more about the Tomato Hornworm here and the type with the wasp eggs here. and here.


  1. Awesome! Awesome! I actually spent 2 wks in Ecuador looking for caterpillars as part of a study on parasitism just like this!! So very cool!

  2. Here's a link to a post I wrote some time ago about my experience:

  3. What an awesome picture. How interesting about the parasites.

    I love your blog, I'll be stopping by more often! We're going to try to do more nature study this year.

    - Angela

  4. It is great to grab your nature study where you find them! Thoses eggs give me the creeps! :)

  5. I can't seem to unscrunch my face from the eewww factor. Eewwww But wow. The wow factor makes my eyebrows relax a bit. Very very interesting to learn about - glad you photographed and googled ad shared!


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