Sunday, July 22, 2012
In the event that you've not had the pleasure of meeting one of this mischievous creatures, allow me to introduce you. The above picture is a depiction of one. I think the "eyes" along the body are there to fool predators into thinking there are many of them, when indeed, if they look closer, there is only one. And, none of those dots are the eyes, so even better camouflage again, they are ingeniously colored and blend exactly in with the tomato plant and leaves. If you see my drawing above, the bare stems, is the quickest way to identify their location. That and the copious droppings forming a large pile on the leave below where ever they may be infiltrating. I have spent many, many minutes trying to find them after spotting the damage and the droppings only to note that my eyes had cruised over them without locating them at all their ability to blend with their environment so completely.
When you go to pluck them off the branch, or goodness forbid they've actually reached the tomato and made a meal out of your best, you will notice something. They are very squishy, their body is not firm at all. And they don't give up their place on the branch easily, so as you are squeezing them a bit to get them off the branch they spray something on you. I'm not sure what it is, but it's bright green along with them. GROSS. So, I've gotten smart about their removal. If they are on an outer branch that does not have a tomato growing, I will just snap the branch off, gross grub and all. If they are with a tomato, I don gloves so that the green crap does not land on me when fired. It's not like it's venomous or anything, it's just gross and I avoid it at all costs. After I've collected what I've found, I walk to the chicken pen and inform the girls they have "TREATIES!" coming their way. Then I tell my Faoumi, Maggie, that she's got a really good treat as she is the first to grab them and will parade around the pen like she's got her beak on the Stanley Cup or something. She flips them around until she's got them adequately reduced in size to swallow 'em down.
And I tell her "Good Girl!" and feel glad that my food supply is no longer the food supply of these marauders. And Mags gets some valuable protein for egg health, so it's a wonderful relationship...for everyone but the poor hornworm, who in the end is just doing what hornworms do.
Wishing your garden pest-free, ~ Peacemom