Explore Plants

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
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Sacred thorn-apple
Datura wrightii

More Pests Questions

Petals not developing on blackeyed susans from Nashville TN
July 05, 2011 - I have an established "patch" of black eyes susans. This year, the leaves are beautiful, the centers black..but the petals are practically non existent. They didn't seem to develop correctly. Any...
view the full question and answer

Sticky material dripping from tree in Austin
July 22, 2012 - The tree in my backyard is dripping what I surmise is sap - a thick,fdrake1@ sticky substance in July. What kind of tree is it and is there anything one can do prevent this from happening? Thank you...
view the full question and answer

Control of ball moss in oak trees
March 23, 2007 - I live in San Marcos, Texas and I have a two acre lot with lots of oak trees. Most of these trees have so much ballmoss attached to them that the leaves and branches are not visible anymore. Is ther...
view the full question and answer

Long term effects of pesticide from Lubbock TX
March 20, 2013 - I have 9 western pecan trees about 20 years old. Trunk sizes is from 18" to 39". I used a product Bayer Tree and Shrub, applied to the trees. I wonder what it will do to the trees. I talkd to Bayer ...
view the full question and answer

Cenizos browning in Houston
October 01, 2011 - After this horrible drought, I am committed to xeriscaping with native Texas plants. The few hibiscus that survived have been transplanted into pots and are thriving. I bid the tiny boxwoods a fond fa...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.