Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kara vs. the Hornworms

The other day I found this crazy-looking caterpillar-type thing on one of our tomato leaves.  It was green with white things stinking out of it everywhere.  I found it quite interesting.  I showed it to Dave, and he found it equally as fascinating.  We had a new pet!

Then yesterday I decided to do a little searching online.  And discovered that our cute new little pet was actually a tomato plant eater.  Whoops.  And that those white things sticking out him were actually (eck!) wasp larvae.  Oh yes, we had a wasp-infested hornworm on our hands.  Check it out here:  Braconid Wasp on Hornworm.

So apparently hornworms with white things sticking out of them are good, and hornworms without white things sticking out of them are bad.  (If you want the full details, read the article in the link above.)  Much to my relief, we'd only seen a hornworm with white things.

Until today.  I'm working from home because I'm a bit under the weather, so I decided I would pick some cherry tomatoes for a snack.   Well guess what.  I about rammed my hand straight into a plump hornworm (white-thing free) munching on a cherry tomato leaf.  Then I looked closer and saw another.  And ANOTHER!!  I came inside to tell Dave (online), and informed him that their death was going to have to wait until he got home, because I just couldn't do it.  Simply looking at them was giving me the heebie jeebies.  He of course said ok, being the wonderful husband he is.

But then I went and checked on them a few minutes later, and they had completely demolished the leaves they'd been munching on previously.  I mean, the leaves were GONE.  I'm thinking, oh goodness, this can't wait.  I'm going to have to do something or half of our plants are going to be dead by 5pm.

Enter kitchen tongs.  (Seriously?  You thought I was going to touch those things with my hands?)

I pulled them off one by one and threw them in the empty dirt lot behind our house.  Hopefully some bird will have a tasty afternoon snack, because I just couldn't do the deed myself.  I found four total.  I quit searching after that because I was feeling pretty nauseous.  I also found two additional ones with white things, and I let them be.  Hornworm with white things = friend.

This one wouldn't let go, so I just pulled the whole branch off.

Let me tell you, those pests have got some strong grippers.  They would not let go of those branches!!  Hence, I discovered that their innards are also bright green.  Awesome.


  1. Oh my goodness, those are so gross-looking! I can't believe you touched them (even with tongs). It would totally creep me out.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing that with us. Blech! I remember we had one in our garden growing up when we planted tomatoes. They are fat juicy little fellas. I'm glad we don't have them here. Hopefully they'll stay out. They remind me of the insects in The Lion King.