Pictured above, shortly before fatally imploding beneath the sole of a 9-1/2 Converse All-Star, is The Arch Nemesis of every vegetable gardener, or at least one of them, the tomato hornworm. Few other pests wreak the devastation these loathsome creatures can. Masterfully camouflaged, stealthy and never sated, they’ll chomp a healthy plant to ribbons in the time it takes to whip-up a tasty ‘mater sammich! Organic pesticides might keep them in check, but never seem to eradicate them entirely, and the idea of using hard-core chemicals on my future salads just isn’t an option. They have few predators, probably because birds and lizards and wasps have a hard time finding the buggers as well. Best course of action is vigilance. To find them, first find the evidence…munched-on foliage and young fruit, and perhaps most important of all, their poop. Yes, the feces of this species is quite unique, a perfectly sectioned square of dookie that resembles a teensy little throw-pillow, or a package of dinner rolls. Black or dark green. If you spot the poop, search the stems and leaves above it, because it had to fall from somewhere. Don’t give up, you’ll eventually notice a leaf a bit plumper than the rest…with legs. You might search the same spot six times before you realize it was right in front of your eyes all along. When you do find one, orchestrate its demise by the method of your choice asap. Then reward yourself with a cool beverage. And rest your eyes…you’ll probably need to start looking for them again tomorrow.
What else is chomping its way through your victory garden? Here’s a link to a more comprehensive list of pests in our area! Keep Rockin’ your garden!