Thursday, January 7, 2016


Happy New Year! Every semester, the undergraduate students in the Insect Biology class here in the Entomology Department are responsible for rearing a tobacco hornworm "pet." They receive their hornworms as an egg or first instar larvae, and record their observations as the hornworm goes through its life cycle from egg to adult (although by the end of the class, most have reached the pupal stage and will likely emerge in the spring or summer)

 Tobacco hornworm Larva 

                         Tobacco hornworm prepupa (olive green), and newly pupated hornworm

This activity is a great way for students to experience an insect that goes through complete metamorphosis first hand. Also, since this is a pest species, students often comment about how much the hornworm eats the larger it gets, which is why they can become such pests! In the "lab" or "home" setting for the student experiments, the hornworms are fed an artificial diet, so no tobacco, tomato, or other plants are harmed in this process!

To learn more about rearing hornworms, check out this great video. This shows the supplies that the students use with their hornworm pet. All in all a very interesting project, although since I am a mantis, I wish they were being reared for my lunch!

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