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Tobacco Hornworm1 locationButterfly/Moth
.: SkyIslander16 :.
Aug 28 2012
Eagle Creek
TypeButterfly/Moth
FamilySphingidae - Sphinx Moths & Hawk
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Manduca sexta

Manduca sexta is a moth of the family Sphingidae present through much of the American continent. Commonly known as the tobacco hornworm, it is closely related to and often confused with the very similar tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata); the larvae of both feed on the foliage of various plants from the family Solanaceae. The tobacco hornworm is sometimes kept as pets by children throughout its range. It can be distinguished by its seven diagonal lines on its sides; tomato hornworms have eight V-shaped markings. A mnemonic to remember the markings is tobacco hornworms have straight white lines like cigarettes, while tomato hornworms have V-shaped markings (as in "vine-ripened" tomatoes).

M. sexta has mechanisms for selectively sequestering and secreting the neurotoxin nicotine present in tobacco.

M. sexta is a common model organism, especially in neurobiology, due to its easily accessible nervous system and short life cycle. It is used in a variety of biomedical and biological scientific experiments. It can be easily raised on a wheat-germ based diet. The larva is large and thus relatively easy to dissect and isolate organs.

M. sexta larvae are green in color and grow up to 70 millimeters in length. Under laboratory conditions, while fed a wheat-germ based diet, larvae are turquoise due to a lack of pigments in their diet. M. sexta blood contains the blue-colored protein insecticyanin. When the larva feeds on plants, it ingests pigmentacious carotenoid proteins. Carotenoids are primarily yellow in hue. When bound together, the protein complex is green.
During the larval stage, M. sexta caterpillars feed on plants of the family Solanaceae, principally tobacco, tomatoes and members of the genus Datura.

Source: Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manduca_sexta
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