East Sac Edible


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My Gardening Nightmare Returns: The Dreaded Hornworm Part 2

So awhile ago I posted about my gardening nightmare and it looks like my nightmare just got a bit bigger. Look at the size of this guy!!DSC_2531

He was happily munching on my tomato plant before I got him and disposed him. The most frustrating thing is that I have only been able to find about 3 hornworms so far on my plants (which doesn’t sound like a problem)…. except I know there are more that are just so well camouflaged that I can’t seem to find them. I go outside to stare at my tomato plants and my eyes go blurry from staring at all the green. I know they are there because of their trail of poo but my eyes just can’t focus long enough to find the monsters. Or maybe I just don’t have that many hornworms this year… yeah… let’s go with that. I like that answer better.DSC_2532

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My Gardening Nightmare Returns: The Dreaded Hornworm

You know you are an obsessive gardener when you actually lose sleep over your garden. And this is what I lose sleep over… DSC_2141Enter the tomato hornworm. Don’t tell me, “Oh isn’t that little caterpillar so cute?” It’s not. Trust me. It might be cute and small now but in just a few weeks it will turn into a huge, menacing, voracious, no-concern-for-my-feelings-or-garden PEST. It will eat its way through my tomato plants at an alarming rate. When the worms are big they even make a clicking sound just to mock me since they blend so well into the plants. They are just mean… and ugly… just look at the damage these small guys have already done:

DSC_2142

This tomato plant should have flowering tomatoes on the end of each of those stems…. instead the hornworm has stripped the flowers meaning less tomatoes for me. They are voracious eaters and will eat all parts of a plant. Look at my potato plant below. This was a lush bushy plant one day ago and a hornworm grew fat eating all the leaves. This hornworm was already a few inches long and once I saw the damage to the leaves I quickly checked for droppings. The bigger hornworms have a very distinct poo. It is large, black and sort of looks like small grenades… yes the hornworm even mocks you in its poo bombs taunting you, “I’m going to destroy your garden!” But the hornworm’s poo is it’s downfall. Looking for the black poo first (which is easy to find on green leaves) helps you locate the camouflaged monster. Then you can destroy the thugs! Death by drowning in soapy water, death by beheading with garden shears, death by stomping… or let the wasps lay eggs in them and you get the most gruesome death of all… death by parasitic take over (think about the scene in the movie Aliens!)…take your pick! Sometimes gardening is thug life!DSC_2143And so it begins… my gardening nightmare. I go out and patrol my tomatoes every day but I know they mock me since I can’t seem to find them. Right now they are really small and almost translucent but I know in a few weeks there are going to be tons of 4 inch caterpillars all over my plants. I really lose sleep over this. They even mock me in my dreams!