Damn the Hornworms … Full Speed Ahead

Every Year when the heat becomes ‘unbearable’ (in excess of 95*F for days, nay, for weeks on end) and water becomes scarce and humanly irregular, my tomato plants (go figure) become stressed. Huh. Imagine that. Anyway, when plants in the garden become stressed, it’s like turning on the neon lights for the bugs. Smorgasbord Ahead. All-You-Can-Eat … or AYCE as we used to say.

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Bountiful Harvest

This year, I thought I had actually beaten the buggers. My tomatoes are … healthier than they have been in past years, and most certainly putting off more fruit than ever before.  And with it being mid June, I was thinking we had gotten past hornworm season … but alas, Not. The game, as they say, was afoot. (I don’t know who ‘they’ are. But the ‘afoot’ thing comes from Sherlock Holmes, aka Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A personal favorite .)

IMG_5165It’s taken several years to figure out just what the devil was going on with my tomato plants. The first year I encountered hornworms, I really didn’t know what they were. I just came home from work one day and **poof** My plants were decimated. Defoliated. Leafless.

And I’m standing there wondering … wtf?

By the second year, I think I spied this green looking worm on my re-de-foliated (yes, its a word now) tomato plants. I thought they where caterpillars that would turn into Butterflies or something. Turkeys.

In the 3rd and 4th years, I was able to locate, identify and intercept the green (insert bad words here), but once again, after the damage was visible from across the yard, and clearly too late to save the plants (though I tried repeatedly, and failed). Picture a cartoon character get ‘red hot’ angry. Quickly becoming me.

IMG_5145Finally by like the fifth year, I was able to spot the little (buggers) hanging upside down and munching happily on my yummy green plants. YEA!! Only I didn’t realize just how prolific and plentiful they were! BOOO!! (Rabbits got nothing on these guys!!) Proud of myself for spotting, picking and squishing their green gooey innards, out,(patting myself on back) I came out a few days later to the same old story. Defoliated plants. Again. Seriously? Grrrr.

Damn Frustrating is what is was. I spent the next couple of years trying to find all the buggers and make THEM dead before they deaden my plants. (That’s the Amish in me speaking – Tribute to old folks). Let me just say, I never realized a … critter could be that color green. I mean the exact same color of the plants!! Worm-a-flouged to a “T”. (or a “W”) I can’t tell you how many times I would look over a plant. Over and over and over again. Following the defoliated stems, searching in vain for something that seemingly didn’t exist … and then, my eyes would re-adjust (or something), and **poof** a worm would appear. In all the Nooks and Crooks and Crannines and … well … Crannies.

IMG_5149Anyway, now we are here, many many many years later, and with Mucho experience-sey, I can now spot the tell tale signs early.  Diligently embark upon a search and destroy mission even if it lasts several days and nights. (For some reason, they can be easier to see with a flashlight. Yea. Not Really)

And then, the moments of Triumph. Finding the Worm. Picking the Worm. And then …. Ahhh…, the pleasure I receive, the orasmic wash of warmth that floods upon me, knowing I am protecting my (Young) Plants. Squishing the life out of those **** worms!!!

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