Here's what you need to do if you see these brightly colored caterpillars in your garden.

Emily Slape

This year, these caterpillars have been popping up in gardens across El Paso, and folks are wondering what kind of caterpillar it is and if it ruins gardens.

My brother and co-worker recently came across these yellowish-green caterpillars in their gardens and were freaked out because they are pretty big, measuring around 4-5 inches long and about half an inch wide.

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It turns out these giant caterpillars are nothing more than harmless hornworms (not to be confused with tomato or tobacco hornworms) that will eventually turn into moths that will help your garden grow.

These particular caterpillars will eventually morph into Hummingbird Moths and not butterflies as commonly assumed. There are dozens of Hummingbird Moth types out there, including the Hawk Moth, Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth, the Tersa Sphinx Hummingbird Moth, and the White-lined Sphinx Hummingbird Moth.

Hummingbird Moths are called hornworms during their caterpillar stage, and while they tend to look yellow or yellow-green, markings may differ depending on the climate and weather.

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Once grown, they will munch on leaves and feed through a long, straw-like tube (not a stinger) and have a lifespan of  2 to 3 weeks before it matures into a moth.

Terri Wilson

Hummingbird Moths are common in Texas, Florida to Maine, and Alaska and are one of a few creatures capable of hovering in flight, like bats and hummingbirds. And because they hover around flowers (hummingbird-like), they often get confused for baby hummingbirds.

So what do you do if you see these critters in your garden? The answer is nothing.

While these giant caterpillars can be pretty gnarly looking, they will eventually convert into Hummingbird Moths, helping to pollinate gardens across El Paso and the rest of the country.

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