Thursday, July 21, 2011


July's first quarter moon alerts me to his arrival, and the signs are everywhere. The mid-month full moon warns of his rapid growth. The dreaded tomato hornworm, a master of camouflage.

This otherwise cute caterpillar is hellbent on defoliating and destroying my plants. Disguised in green, he blends in with the leaves and is visible only when he moves and to a trained eye. In a few weeks time he grows from a tiny inch to ginormous 4 inches and more. In numbers, the damage is devastating and the only defense against the offense? My garden whites to help me keep my cool as I enter the tomato gauntlet... my fingers to
pick off as many as I can possibly see... a wish that his worst enemy, the braconid wasp, is active... and cheesecloth as bug netting for me and a protective wrap for the young tomatoes. On one hand, the only way to save the plants is to remove the offender. On the other, this caterpillar morphs into one of the greatest pollinators on earth... the elusive, impressive hawk moth.

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