Raising Hornworms


New Member
I am getting going on my own Hornworm project, and there really only seems to be one real informative source on how to do this... It is the The Manduca Project done by the University of AZ. While getting going on this I noticed that there are a few holes in the "Rearing Section". I thought it would be good to start a thread here to discuss methods and techniques of rearing the more difficult feeder to raise, not to mention one of the more expensive.

I know we have a couple forum members that have been successfull raising Hornworms, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will chime in here with some pointers.

I am putting together my rearing box and had a few questions...

The website says that the moths need a Tomato plant to lay eggs on...
Will any plant do?

How many moths should I keep in one rearing box?

What is the best method of handling the eggs?

Info on raising these is INCREDIBLY scarce, So I would really apprectiate it if anyone with experience could enlighten us in the ways of raising the Manduca Sexta.

Thanks In advance...

I will document my experience and anything I learn a long the way here, In hopes of creating a nice reference spot for anyone interested in raising Hornworms, geared for our hobby, not a classroom experiement...



Retired Moderator
I don't know why I keep failing hatching the coccoon using soil substrate.
Later I found out that a shoe box with tiny holes in it work better for me.

the annoying part about this worm is the fact that you need to feed the moth nectars to make sure they survive.
So far, I have no idea how people do it.
I just feed the moth immediately to my cham.

I currently have 12 cocoon in the making. But, stupid #@$%#@^@^#@$#$ ants decided to intervene.
I found out one moth emerge and get attacked immediately by swarm of ants crawling from the wall crevice in my garage.
:( :( :( I hate ants! They should be eradicated!!!!

So, word to the wise, find some containers that is ant proof.
The odor of the cocoon and/or the liquid ejected by the moth when they get out can attract ants from outside.
So, if you live in California and during season where ants are abundant, best to be careful.
Now, my 1000 crickets are swarmed by ants as well.
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New Member
Thanks Dodolah!

What kind of area are you setting up for the cacoon... I was under the inpression that you put the large worm in the rearing box and allow it to spin and pupate into a moth in there, where they will mate and lay eggs. Are yo doing this differently?

LOL Been there with the ants... I have had them out of my Cham room for a total week successfully, and they don't seem to be coming back... I will be sure to take extra precaution there though. I had my entire silkie farm ruined bombarded and destroyed by ants before...Not fun...


Retired Moderator
Thanks Dodolah!

What kind of area are you setting up for the cacoon... I was under the inpression that you put the large worm in the rearing box and allow it to spin and pupate into a moth in there, where they will mate and lay eggs. Are yo doing this differently?

as far as i know, they need substrate to dig before start pupating.
So, before, I put a layer of peat moss, spaghnum moss, or soil for them to dig.
Off course, they immediately dig and turn into cocoon.
But, they hatch extremely slow and some died in the cocoon.
By the time other moth hatch, the other has died.

Hornworms just shed into ugly layered black caterpillar and then they stop moving. Later, they shed into a cocoon.
I never see them spin any threads like silkies.

During 1 event, I put a large hornworm into an empty tissue box on the bottom of my insect drawer and accidentally forgot to feed it to my cham.
Only to find a healthy moth emerge several days later.
I guess if you somehow make it dark enough, the worm will start pupating regardless they are in a soil or not.

Ever since that, I just put the worm in a small shoe box and leave it alone tuck deep in the drawer.
The hatch rate increase significantly.
idk if the soil i'm using has anything to do with the failure rate.

Since the box method work for me, I just use it again and again.
Just an empty box. No substrate, no nothing.
But, this is purely based on my experience. no scientific articles to back my point. So, don't ask for any :D
U can try this method with 1 hornworm as experiment and see the difference.


Avid Member
that sux bro, i hate ants as well as most of us on here do.

I've had plenty of hornworms pupate just being left in their containers too long. They get this clear thingy over them, and then cocoon.

lol, my mom got me a ferret cage, i taped screen over the top, just because the bars were way, waaaay to wide. Soil worked well for me! Every worm I tossed in their, tunnel'd themselves down into the soil and were... ahh.. i guess a month or so? not even 2 months from what i recall, came the moths. they look dead until u really disturb them.

I put in a few skinny sticks and had them over a couple bowls of sugar water... well... they all died. I don't feed them to my chams, i think theyre too big.

I'm going to try this again asap. we should share our experience with our attempts and different methods of doing things.

i'm sure we all can learn a thing or two from one another.

best of luck and hope all is well,



how long does the cocoon stage usually take? I currently have several cocoons and I'm just wondering how long until I should see moths? (its been about 3 weeks)


New Member
Hey guys have you had any luck with this??? Id really like to try as well but have no idea where to start is there a basic set up you need?????????


New Member
I have had an amazingly (lucky) time successfully getting my hornworms to pupate, emerge, and lay! I would be more then happy to share my experience with those still interested! (I have also done this with crickets)


Avid Member
I would love to know your success story!! I am hoping to get into hornworms soon so it would be valuable info for me!



New Member
I know this was originally years old, just found it this morning. Was curious as to if anyone successfully hatched the eggs?

I collected over 700 eggs and not a single one of them hatched.

Any tips or tricks?


New Member
Any (New) info/advice on the topic of hornworms would Be greatly appreciate. Them feeders are Incredibly hard to find here in town.

Appreciate it
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