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Hornworm breeding program: suggestions?


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I am starting a tobacco hornworm program (Manduca sexta). To use as feeders for my animals. I currently have 45 little hungry worms. In groups of 15 in a bin. In each bin I am using a different food to see which one they prefer and get more nutrients, easily excess-able, etc. The foods are: Broccoli leaves/plant, the artificial food, and spinach/ leafy greens. 

I sadly couldn’t find tomatoes or potatoes. 😢

They are all about 1 inch in length and eat a lot. 
The ones eating the broccoli and leafy greens are starting to turn green.

This project has already costed a lot so I hope its worth it.
Can you believe that a hornworm costs $2 at my local pet store!!

So I got 33 for only $9 online. (Was supposed to get another container of 33 but had a mix up with company) 

When they become moths next year (I will only take 3 more weeks for them to pupate.) I will feed them nectar and other suitable foods from blue containers (bottle caps). Along with their food plants to lay eggs on. 
 

Any thing I am missing or any suggestions?

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During the months when food plants such as tomatoes & potatoes aren't growing, I think you'll find that the artificial diet is by far the most practical way to go (even if it's not the lowest cost solution).  Are you buying the artificial food as pre-prepared, or is it a dry powder that turns into paste when mixed with water?  I haven't worked with hornworms in many years, so I'm not sure what's now available in regard to artificial diets.  Back when I bought it in the 1990s, it came as pre-prepared, moist paste in small tubes, that had to be kept refrigerated.

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Also some foods make them poisonous so keep that in mind.

I'm using the artificial diet. They love it. 

When they pupate, you can dig them up and expose them to light to make them hatch faster. No need to wait for the diapause like wait they go through. I put one of my desk lamps with a plant grow bulb on them for 24 hours straight and after a week or two all of them hatched.

Also be ready for eggs everywhere unless someone else knows how to get then to lay eggs on a specific spot.

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2 hours ago, Goliathus said:

During the months when food plants such as tomatoes & potatoes aren't growing, I think you'll find that the artificial diet is by far the most practical way to go (even if it's not the lowest cost solution).  Are you buying the artificial food as pre-prepared, or is it a dry powder that turns into paste when mixed with water?  I haven't worked with hornworms in many years, so I'm not sure what's now available in regard to artificial diets.  Back when I bought it in the 1990s, it came as pre-prepared, moist paste in small tubes, that had to be kept refrigerated.

I believe I am using the pre made!

2 hours ago, cfreidsma said:

Also some foods make them poisonous so keep that in mind.

I'm using the artificial diet. They love it. 

When they pupate, you can dig them up and expose them to light to make them hatch faster. No need to wait for the diapause like wait they go through. I put one of my desk lamps with a plant grow bulb on them for 24 hours straight and after a week or two all of them hatched.

Also be ready for eggs everywhere unless someone else knows how to get then to lay eggs on a specific spot.

Yeah I am kind of glad I am not using tomatoes!

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There are dozens, if not hundreds of sexta resources, especially now with the reptile trade.

As far as feeding adult sphinx moths, I've used hummingbird nectar with electrolytes, some use honey water, simple sugary

nectar doesn't have the nutrients they need. I tried using a hummingbird feeder, a small one, and my Hyles lineata ignored it, I had

to use a small dish with a few real or fake flowers floating on the top, any flower should work, I used what was available outside,

rosemary, and lobelia I think.

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