TOBACCO HORNWORM - Manduca sexta

  Tobacco Hornworm
What was this Tobacco Hornworm caterpillar doing on some vegetation along the New River in Alleghany County, NC? Two of its main host plants are tobacco and tomato, both of which belong to the Solanaceae family, which is sometimes called the Nightshade family. There were no tobacco or tomato plants in the river bottom land. Actually, the caterpillar was clinging to a plant called Deadly Nightshade, which, by its name, indicates that it also is a member of the Nightshade family.
But, I'm puzzled. Why is this caterpillar even in existence this late in the year? Mid-October in the Blue Ridge Mountains?!!
Judging by its size, it probably was ready to pupate. That brings to mind another question. How long does the Tobacco Hornworm stay in the pupa stage? Will it overwinter that way?
I'm going back to try to find what I hope will be the pupa. Should I bring it home, move it, or leave it to chance?
This caterpillar eventually becomes a large moth whose outstretched wingspan is almost four inches.
I welcome comments and knowledge at the end of this entry. Thanks.