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

Why is my recently planted Esperanza doing poorly in Texas City, TX?
May 28, 2010 - I have an Esperanza I planted about 2 months ago. It has been doing well, except today all but one stem of the plant is wilting and the leaves are rolling. I see no bugs on the plant. Any idea what...
view the full question and answer

Why are there gnats in my houseplants?
July 22, 2009 - I have flying brown gnats in my house plants. Can you tell me why?
view the full question and answer

Black coloration on Star Magnolia is probably sooty mold.
November 21, 2008 - I have a star magnolia where 90% of the bark has turned black. It almost looks burned. The tree has decent buds set for next spring. What is causing the bark to turn black?
view the full question and answer

Problems with mountain laurel from Sunrise Beach TX
August 29, 2012 - In Llano Co., TX near lake LBJ, crushed granite type soil - my 4 - 5 year old TX Mtn. Laurels (2), about the size of large wheel barrows, are turning very pale, dropping leaves and on 1 the seed pods ...
view the full question and answer

Snail and slug management in Austin
May 27, 2007 - How can you get rid of large snails in the Austin, TX garden?
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