...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tomato Creeps

I told you I have a bunch of tomato plants.
What I didn't tell you is that over the past couple of weeks my poor, sad, plants have been barraged with some plague which has decimated their leaves and pocked many of the green fruits before they have a chance to ripen.  The problem was almost exclusively near the tops of the plants which ruled out many of my usual offenders like snails (we live next to an irrigation canal so snails are a problem we battle all the time).
I had not seen this particular scourge before (we've dealt with snails and powder mildew and blight, but not this issue).
So, last week I decided I was sick of it and was going to get to the bottom of the problem.
While I was searching through my plants for an answer, I came across these little beauties (which I say with the most sarcastically dripping sarcasm you can imagine...they are NOT beautiful...AT ALL).  They are called hornworms.

Knowing where there is one there are likely many I continued to search and quickly found two more ugly tomato molesters. Then Parker found two that afternoon.  Blegh! 
My inclination was to smash their little brains into oblivion, but then my little pixie daughter came by and asked if she could keep them. 
I told her she could keep them in a jar long enough to show her pre-school class but then they were dead meat!

I ended up with three jars of two nasty caterpillars each.  Oh my gross, these things are horrible.  Also, just an FYI, they poo their little brains out and leave a disgusting mess on the bottom of the jar.  It was an awful couple of days keeping them alive on tomato leaves (they are insatiable and eat a TON) and cleaning out the jars every evening.
After their school performances (four of the kids took them to show to their classes) these unfortunate creatures met their demise.  I wasn't sad to see them go (although I did have my boys smoosh them because they like that sort of thing and I don't). 
Our infestation has totaled nine (that's right, nine) awful creepy crawlies so far (I'm sure there are more that I haven't discovered yet, but I've offered the kids a reward for each new larva style vermin they find).  I've trimmed the dead areas off my plants so I'll know where these lime colored beasts are hiding if more dead areas begin to show up.  I'd treat it more vigorously if it wasn't the end of the season.  We will be tilling like mad in the spring (which apparently greatly decreases your chances of more nasties in the future) and we may plant some marigolds or dill to help out as well. 
I hope your plants have been safe from these bad boys.

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