Rearing Tobacco Hornworm as a Feeder Insect

The tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta, has been a pest to small- and large-scale gardeners for decades. The large green caterpillar is perhaps best known for its damage to tomato and tobacco crops and often fascinates homeowners due to its size and propensity to form small white sacs along its back. Interestingly, these white sacs are not formed by the caterpillar at all and are actually the cocoons of a parasitic wasp who’s larvae have been feeding on the caterpillar’s insides for days.  For years, the tobacco hornworm has been viewed merely as a pest that threatens your gardens yields. Recently however, a new and beneficial outlet for these organisms has emerged in a surprising place.

Due to its large size and relatively quick developmental time, some innovative reptile breeders began to see an opportunity to vary the diet of some of the more popular lizards in the pet trade. These insects are now being reared and sold commercially to home pet owners, reptile breeders, and pet stores alike as an efficient and nutritionally beneficial source of protein for bearded dragons and other large lizards. To support this burgeoning industry, Frontier offers a proven and reliable artificial media for rearing tobacco hornworms from egg to adulthood. We support small scale rearing for hobbyists interested in rearing their own hornworms as well as large-scale hornworm rearing operations that consume metric tons of diet to maintain their large colonies. Whether your fall into the former or the latter category, or are just interested in this new application, we encourage you to speak with one of our entomologists or to visit our products page for this insect diet, Product# F9783B.

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