Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Worm in the Grass


So I was harvesting San Marzano tomatoes today…
…and placing them in a five gallon bucket…
…with visions of delicious salsa dancing through my brain…
What the…? I had just walked past the end of the San Marzano tomato row and saw this… a tomato hornworm approximately three to four feet from the end of the row, that is, from the area of its nourishment.
My first thought was, “I hadn’t noticed any hornworm damage.” So I looked to the row of San Marzanos…
Ah, there it is! Can you see it? The picture is small, I know. Try this one…
This picture is more close up. As you can see, there are no leaves on the top branches to the left. The tomato hornworm devours the foliage of tomato plants. Luckily, tomatoes grow many, many side shoots so that the hornworm damage almost never actually kills a plant… but they are nasty creatures nonetheless.
So, back to the hornworm… (By the way, they are called “hornworm” because of the horn on their nether region, which you can barely see here at the lower part of the hornworm in the picture.)
Horn worms are feisty, and nasty critters. I attempted to slip it up on this board for better viewing, but it refused. This one was actually somewhat small for “full size”, but I shall explain. The length of this worm was somewhere between three and four inches. They can get as large as six inches as I have witnessed in the past. What intrigued me with this one was that I have never witnessed the end of a horn worm cycle, as in, once it finishes growing in the worm stage it burrows into the ground to pupate into its moth form.  This worm was obviously attempting to get to pupate to the moth stage… but, alas, I arrived!
And so did one of my tomato de-hornwormers, aka. Pruner! I realize it appears rather docile at the moment. I am referring to the tomato de-hornwormer…