In the Garden: Today’s Wonderful Thing

Big fat tomato hornworm
Big fat tomato hornworm

In my quest to find a wonderful thing every day in my tiny 10 X 25 garden plot, I was somewhat disappointed that for the first time, no dragonflies were around. The Annual Dragonfly Convention must be in session somewhere deep in the swamp.

Then I noticed that one of my tomato plants was skeltonized-chomped right down to the indigestible stems. “Ah hah! I know what that is,” and sure enough after a lot of searching, I found the big, fat tomato hornworm. Pause and look at your finger-that’s how big a tomato hornworm is.

My Pop first showed them to me when I was a little girl. “What’s eating this tomato plant?” he asked me. I looked and looked. “Whatever it was, it must have flown away,” I said. He laughed, because I was looking straight at the perp-a big fat tomato hornworm. In my defense, they wear very high-end camouflage.

“Pick it up,” Pop said. But it looked really big and it had a pointy end. “It has a stinger,” I said. He just smiled. I picked it up and it whipped its stinger around at my hand and I screamed and dropped it. Pop laughed. The stinger, as it turns out, is a bluff.

Today I plucked the greedy caterpillar off the tomato plant and it whipped its “stinger” at me. This time I laughed-at myself, because although I know it’s a bluff, I almost dropped it in panic. Again.

If you have a garden, remember that tomato hornworms always have buddies, often of various sizes, chonking on neighboring stems. I found seven on my two tomato plants, enough to strip both plants in an overnight eating orgy. I have dealt with them appropriately. The tomato plants will recover.

Hornworm life cycle
Hornworm life cycle



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