A Sentiment

God knew what He was doing when He sent a gentle breeze and brought a lovely butterfly to set my heart at ease. The happiness of your friendship and the gentleness of your words have touched my life in special ways and now I feel assured. Thank you for your loyalty and for reading everyday. I only hope you find things to make a happy day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Confess to a Little Murder in the Garden

We worked in the yard yesterday, mowing, weed wacking, just cleaning up. As I came up the incline on the west side of the house, I noticed my cherry tomato plant in the pot looked different. It has been a beautiful tomato. Perfect in every way. No brown shriveled leaves or imperfections. Growing to fill this large pot with a rather compact plant full of clusters of grapelike tomatoes hanging down everywhere. So succulent and juicy...not too tart, not too sweet , a perfect tomato. I ate them while gardening. This morning some of the branches were bare and sticking out from the plant. Leaves were gone on many branches. Some of the fruit had been munched on. I checked the plant all over, because I knew who the culprit was. The tomato hornworm...where was he? After looking for quite a while...there he was on the underside of a perfect leaf. This fellow is actually a large caterpillar that can reach up to 4 inches long. They eventually turn into the hummingbird moth. I didn't know that they turned into this interesting moth. I love seeing the moth in the garden...who knew?? These worms are not only ugly but also quite mean. I proceeded to pull him off but it wasn’t an easy task. They hold on tight and are ready to fight you every bit of the way. While they do look creepy, with fake eyes along their body, horn and of course the green slime they ooze most of these features are just to deter predators. I have to confess to murder this morning. I had a pair of scissors in my hand and I literally cut him up in tiny pieces, So there! I was so angry at him. (my hubby doesn't think that I should confess to this mayhem...he thinks people will think I'm mean)
If you are unlucky enough to find yourself a victim of these creatures of mass destruction, grab a pair of pliers and gloves and get to work immediately pulling them off. They work really fast so you don’t want to delay.We checked all the tomatoes and this was the only one found. I know that a wasp injects them with their eggs and the hornworm carries them on their bodies. I hope that you never have to deal with the problem of tomato horn worms. They are unbelievably destructive and just downright creepy.
Luckily I think I caught them in time and my tomato will survive.

Hornworms - Green to reddish-brown caterpillars up to 4 inches long with red or black anal horn; body with 7 diagonal or 8 V-shaped marks on each side; round black spiracles along side of body strips leaves from vines; infrequently feeds on fruit leaving large, open superficial scars on tomatoes.

Well, this morning I will make my way out to check on our plants. I don't want to spray them, but will control these pests by picking them off and destroying them. I'm glad that I'm not squeamish about bugs. My kids grew up with just about every bug in a jar. My oldest son, Tim, still has a love for all things crawly. He and Anthony collect all kinds of critters. If they lived closer, I would have put this fellow in a jar.
An addition....I was working in the same area as the tomato and found another one...this time one with eggs on it's back. It hadn't done any damage.


Lynn said...

You go girl get those that destroy our wonderful tomatoes!!! I do the same thing... We wait to long to enjoy them, I'm not going to give them up to some worm!!!

Roses and Lilacs said...

I always plant at least two extra tomato plants in an out of the way place in case I find one of these hornworms. I love the hawk moths they turn into so I never kill them. Haven't seen a single one this summer.

Balisha said...

Is the hawkmoth the same as the hummingbird moth? I love those also. I found two huge moths last summer,,,I wonder if they were from this hornworm? As you can tell...I know very little about this.

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

Well...I think it's a matter of protecting..our tomatoes. If I went into someones home or garden and began munching on everything I could find...destroying their ..well..anyway...I imagine I would get "whacked" too!
I mean..I certainly would not judge you! No..not me!
I'm afraid I am guilty of complete meyhem! I must have killed a million ants not so long ago...they were into the dogfood..which was sealed up...and an entire 20 pound bag had to be thrown out.
Nope..no judging here! :):)
SO nice to visit you again! SO nice!

Rhonda said...

We also grow extra tomatoes and relocate the catapillars to those. The moths that come from them are so gorgeous that we can't bear to kill them. Plus we lose important pollinators. The "eggs" on the back of the catapillar might have been the eggs of a parasite. There is a wasp that implant their eggs on the catapillars and when the young hatch, they eat the host from the inside out. Not very appetizing I'm afraid, but I guess it's all part of the circle of life.