En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - October 03, 2013

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Pests
Title: Native nightshade that is a host to hornworm-hawk's eye moth
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Is there a native nightshade that serves as a host to tomato hornworm/hawks eye moth? I like the moth and as a gardener do not like the hornworm. I would like to have a patch of not terribly toxic nightshades to which I could relocate the hornworms.

ANSWER:

There are other Solanaceae that the hornworm will feed on—e.g., pepper, eggplant and potato.  However, you probably aren't going to be happy about these plants being eaten either. There are native plants that you can encourage to grow near your garden that the caterpillars can be transferred to.  They will feed on Solanum elaeagnifolium (Silverleaf nightshade) and Solanum dimidiatum (Western horsenettle), common native plants that grow in Hays County.  They are considered toxic, however.  See the information from Texas A&M AgriLife's Plants of Texas Rangelands about silverleaf nightshade.  They will also feed on Datura wrightii (Sacred thorn-apple) but it is considered highly toxic.

You do realize that if you transfer the caterpillars to other plants to feed and mature, the resulting moths will lay eggs on your tomatoes again next year and you will have still more caterpillars to deal with.

Here is information from SF Gate about the hornworm and controlling it.  

 

From the Image Gallery


Silverleaf nightshade
Solanum elaeagnifolium

Western horsenettle
Solanum dimidiatum

Jimsonweed
Datura wrightii

More Pests Questions

Fighting ants and bugs in Richardson TX
September 01, 2010 - Before my blue fall asters and my Clara Curtis (perennial) mums bloom in a few weeks, what can I do to help prevent the ants and other bugs from eating them to death- so I can enjoy them a bit longer ...
view the full question and answer

Caterpillars ate my Sophora in La Mesa, CA.
July 06, 2011 - Before I noticed what was happening, my newly-planted 1 foot tall Sophora secundiflora was eaten by caterpillars. It now has no foliage. Do you think it will leaf out again?
view the full question and answer

Weird growth on oaks in Middleburg FL
February 05, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants; I have this plant/fungus that grows on my trees here in northeast Florida & nobody has been able to identify it for me. It looks like a clump of pine needles growing on the ba...
view the full question and answer

Death of lantana in Bryan TX
March 28, 2013 - I would like to know what killed several new gold lantana in a single bed that died over the winter. They looked quite healthy last fall. I have several other new gold lantana that survived the wint...
view the full question and answer

Japanese beetles in Port Monmouth, NJ
April 08, 2009 - I have searched your web-site in the hopes of not repeating or bothering you with a question not in your field. I am hoping you can help me. I live in Port Monmouth, New Jersey. Last year many of my ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center