Tobacco hornworm moths will be flying for the first of two generations that occur each year in Kentucky. This insect spends the winter as a pupa deep in the soil of the previous year’s tobacco fields. The moths emerge and fly at night, gluing single eggs to the undersides of leaves of solanaceous plants. The eggs hatch in about 4 days and the larvae feed for 3 weeks before leaving the plant to pupate in the soil. The second generation is active in July and August.
While the first generation is smaller than the first, a single hornworm eats about 240 square inches of tobacco leaf during its development. This can mean significant damage to the smaller plants that are present at that time.
Control recommendations are available in Insecticide Recommendations for Tobacco Beds and Fields – 2014 (ENT-15) available online at http://pest.ca.uky.edu/EXT/Recs/ENT15-Tobacco.pdf.
By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist