Raising Hornworms

snitz427

Chameleon Enthusiast
We’re parents again!

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We (and by we I mean mostly me unless there is the need for touching bugs) are trying our luck with hornworms. I had a few that grew too large so I put them in a container with food and coco coir and let them pupate. They dug down almost right away when given the option.

After 2 weeks or so, moths started to emerge. I purchased a 24” butterfly screen cage on Amazon for ~$15 and I put the bin in that with a little papertowel for the moths to use to crawl out. It took a day or two for them to dry and stretch out their wings, at which point they crawl or fly up onto the screen.

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I added a pepper plant as they supposedly like to lay their eggs on nightshade plants. I found this to be partially true... we ended up with eggs on the plant and on the screen itself!

I also added a hummingbird feeder with a sugar water mix. Havent seen them drink but I do see their little straw mouth thingy out occassionally as they hover and fly around. I think a slightly larger screen cage would serve them better as they tend to hit their wings on other objects in the cage a lot.

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The moths are very active at night / in the dark, and almost completely motionless in the daylight. I have them on my bug rack in my basement with 12 hrs of flourescent light, 73 degrees, and a small oscillating fan during the day. They do spray a little but I think the screen mesh is fine enough that it catches most of it. I suspect this is pheramones much like the silkmoths spray and are attracted to.

After a few days we started to see eggs throughout the cage. They are mostly a bright blue like hornworms, but can also be white or yellowish. The eggs hatch very quickly - in about 4 days. The babies are fragile and have long black “horns” on the back. Cute! I used a piece if paper towel to scoop up a few eggs that we missed and hatched on the screen.

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We got about 50 eggs, and maybe 10 have hatched so far. 2 of the 4 moths died, 1 of which never straightened out its wings. I hope the other one that died wasnt my female! The silkworm life cycle seems much longer than the hornworm cycle so at least I’ll have enough caterpilars to replace the moths. I think I’ll let 10 pupate next time vs the 4 or 5 last time. Any more than that would be too cramped.

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snitz427

Chameleon Enthusiast
What do they eat?
I have Repashy’s hornworm chow but not sure either of us love it. I’m going to experiment with making my own chow soon... but for now we’re sticking with repashy’s. You can technically feed them other veggie foods, or allow them to eat the nightshade leaves - but that supposedly makes them toxic.
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
Yea. Ive been stuck with hornworm chow, silkworm chow, or carrot slices as a last resort. I have not gotten them to eat mulberry leaves, not matter how much i chop them up. And as you say, if you feed a "tomato worm" tomato leaves, the old tale is it makes them toxic.
 

snitz427

Chameleon Enthusiast
Yea. Ive been stuck with hornworm chow, silkworm chow, or carrot slices as a last resort. I have not gotten them to eat mulberry leaves, not matter how much i chop them up. And as you say, if you feed a "tomato worm" tomato leaves, the old tale is it makes them toxic.
I have silkworm chow but apparently that can also increase their toxicity... something about uric acid buildup I believe. Hornworm chow doesn’t look terrible but some of the ingredients are expensive!
 

BECHARD4

Established Member
For baby horned worms we do pods. The babies will crawl up the side and then poop falls to the bottom. Makes for pretty easy cleaning.
We are just waiting for our hawk moths to emerge. We only have one so far. Waiting for about another 50.
 

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Daesie11

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hornworms - its what's for dinner!
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So far the horn worms and the isopods are the only things that have peaked my boyfriends interest that has to do with this hobby. He wanted to see how big he could grow the worms, so I told him once they outgrew Pesto he could have them but they were 100% his responsibility (yes, he is like a child). Yesterday he made their food, just some Repashy hornworm chow. Today it was set and chilled so he cleaned out their cup and got their food ready (hence them being on a plate lol). We were actually in the process of doing this when I saw your post, perfect timing! Except, now he wants to pupate them into moths :rolleyes: I have no idea what we would do with the moths after pupating, seeing as they will be way to big for Pesto, but I digress.
The moral of my long unnecessary story is this: how should I be keeping them, and what is the best way to get them to pupate?
Also, please pray for me as I fear my bf is starting to turn in to a *shudder* bug person.
 

snitz427

Chameleon Enthusiast
For baby horned worms we do pods. The babies will crawl up the side and then poop falls to the bottom. Makes for pretty easy cleaning.
We are just waiting for our hawk moths to emerge. We only have one so far. Waiting for about another 50.
Holy camole! 50 moths would be overwhelming for me as far as eggs go! What kind of cage are they in? I thought about using a reptibreeze.
 

snitz427

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hornworms - its what's for dinner! View attachment 236043

So far the horn worms and the isopods are the only things that have peaked my boyfriends interest that has to do with this hobby. He wanted to see how big he could grow the worms, so I told him once they outgrew Pesto he could have them but they were 100% his responsibility (yes, he is like a child). Yesterday he made their food, just some Repashy hornworm chow. Today it was set and chilled so he cleaned out their cup and got their food ready (hence them being on a plate lol). We were actually in the process of doing this when I saw your post, perfect timing! Except, now he wants to pupate them into moths :rolleyes: I have no idea what we would do with the moths after pupating, seeing as they will be way to big for Pesto, but I digress.
The moral of my long unnecessary story is this: how should I be keeping them, and what is the best way to get them to pupate?
Also, please pray for me as I fear my bf is starting to turn in to a *shudder* bug person.
Throw em in a tuperware container or shoe box with a few inches of soil or coir and wait! They look about ready to pupate judging by the lighter color. Keep a lid on the box and start checking after a week or two.
 

Daesie11

Chameleon Enthusiast
Throw em in a tuperware container or shoe box with a few inches of soil or coir and wait! They look about ready to pupate judging by the lighter color. Keep a lid on the box and start checking after a week or two.
Is there a specific temp that is better to keep them at? Tbh I'm not willing to do a real temp control, but like should I put them in a cool closet or a warm window sill, because that's as far as I'm willing to go for these worms :ROFLMAO:
 

snitz427

Chameleon Enthusiast
Is there a specific temp that is better to keep them at? Tbh I'm not willing to do a real temp control, but like should I put them in a cool closet or a warm window sill, because that's as far as I'm willing to go for these worms :ROFLMAO:
I just keep them at room temp. The only bugs I intentionally keep warm are the crickets and roaches. Everything else does just fine around 73 or so which is the usual ambient room temps.

Mist the soil now and then and thats about it. Its said they need/like brigjt light to pupate but I just kept mine out under regular house lighting... no special care at all really. A clear container instead of a shoe box would allow the light in.
 

BECHARD4

Established Member
Holy camole! 50 moths would be overwhelming for me as far as eggs go! What kind of cage are they in? I thought about using a reptibreeze.
Last year they were in the black mesh flexaruim, this year my husband build an enclosure so we can try and do more. We do all the hatching outside in the spring to fall vs inside the house.
Too many for in the house.
 

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BECHARD4

Established Member
Hornworms - its what's for dinner! View attachment 236043

So far the horn worms and the isopods are the only things that have peaked my boyfriends interest that has to do with this hobby. He wanted to see how big he could grow the worms, so I told him once they outgrew Pesto he could have them but they were 100% his responsibility (yes, he is like a child). Yesterday he made their food, just some Repashy hornworm chow. Today it was set and chilled so he cleaned out their cup and got their food ready (hence them being on a plate lol). We were actually in the process of doing this when I saw your post, perfect timing! Except, now he wants to pupate them into moths :rolleyes: I have no idea what we would do with the moths after pupating, seeing as they will be way to big for Pesto, but I digress.
The moral of my long unnecessary story is this: how should I be keeping them, and what is the best way to get them to pupate?
Also, please pray for me as I fear my bf is starting to turn in to a *shudder* bug person.
They will get a black line down their spine , stop eating and starting roaming. Then they are ready to pupae. As already mentioned they will bury down in the dirt and pupae. Here is a couple of pics what they look like when they pupae.
 

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janjan20

Chameleon Enthusiast
Last year they were in the black mesh flexaruim, this year my husband build an enclosure so we can try and do more. We do all the hatching outside in the spring to fall vs inside the house.
Too many for in the house.
They will get a black line down their spine , stop eating and starting roaming. Then they are ready to pupae. As already mentioned they will bury down in the dirt and pupae. Here is a couple of pics what they look like when they pupae.
Wow! That’s a nice set up! Cool pics too!
 

Spyro

Established Member
Site Sponsor
They will get a black line down their spine , stop eating and starting roaming. Then they are ready to pupae. As already mentioned they will bury down in the dirt and pupae. Here is a couple of pics what they look like when they pupae.
Have you tried using artificial leaves? We had really good success a few years ago. It takes all of the work out of keeping plants alive indoors.

The holes in the door. Ouch. Have you seen parasites on the worms yet? Or do you let them bury indoors?
 

snitz427

Chameleon Enthusiast
Have you tried using artificial leaves? We had really good success a few years ago. It takes all of the work out of keeping plants alive indoors.

The holes in the door. Ouch. Have you seen parasites on the worms yet? Or do you let them bury indoors?
That’s interesting! I have a small pepper plant that had a fair amount of eggs deposited, but they were also all over the cage. I’d prefer a fake plant due to size restraints.
 
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