"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china."

Charles Dickens

June 15, 2011

From the "Icky Ooey" Department


I find a strange beauty in these dreaded hornworms but also a savage delight in watching their green guts––from chomping on my tomato plants and filling their bellies––spill all over the patio.

Munch, munch, munch––the little buggers!
Imagine my surprise to find most of one tomato plant defoliated the other morning. First of all, surprise because only the night before the plants were fine and secondly, because I'm growing all of my tomatoes (and most of our garden) in large pots this year. How did those little buggers even find them? Or better yet, climb up the clay pots to their own personal salad bars?

The best organic preventative seems to be handpicking the little buggers off the vines and dumping them in soapy water or snipping them in half (that is, if you don't want to squish 'em first). But they blend in beautifully on your plants and come in all sizes: from one inch to four. Here's some more information on the dreaded hornworm caterpillar:

https://survivalfarm.wordpress.com/tag/tomato-horn-worm/
http://organicgardening.about.com/od/pestcontrol/p/tomatohornworm.htm

Apparently, the tomato hornworm is easily confused with the tobacco hornworm, which has a red antenna. Either way, they eat the same plants. And this country certainly had its share of tobacco crops at one time––some still farm it. So maybe my gang has crawled up from some dormant tobacco shed on the ridge.

Well, I know they turn into magnificent moths upon maturity but no moth is worth some gorgeous, vine-ripened summer tomatoes from our garden!

Squish, squish!

You come back when you're ready!

Catherine

4 comments:

  1. Dad used to hand pick the little critters off the plants and drop them into a can of gasoline.

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  2. Did he then light it on fire just for spite? I suppose that would be taking things a bit too far... ; )

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  3. I think these worms are beautiful! I don't want them eating my tomatoes, though. How did you get these great pictures?

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  4. They are, Joberta, so it is a conflicted thing I feel in ridding them. I just zoomed in on them and cropped the photos down. Have camera, will take just about anything...

    I wonder what Julie would say about this! I can't imagine picking them off rows of tomato plants! They are so hard to see for one thing.

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