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Monday, August 22, 2016

Not for the faint of heart, or, gardening woes

It hasn't been a good gardening year, but I did have a few tomato plants that were struggling along, and even bearing some fruit. Did have. Until this week. 
I had seen a little damage on one plant but thought it was slug related. Two days later, all my tomato plants had been stripped of folage and most of the fruit. On one plant, I plucked off 7--SEVEN--tomato hornworms yesterday. There is not a fruit or a leaf left on the plant, and all that within two days. Even on a denuded plant, I had to look hard to find them, and they were a good 2-3 inches long. They blend in wonderfully.  

Today I took a couple of pictures to add to my blog, and when I looked at the first at 100% magnification, with an eye to showing a detail of the damage, lo and behold, I found yet another!

Disguised as a rolled up leaf

Out I trotted to the greenhouse, paper towel in hand, and plucked not one but two hornworms off the plant, making a total of NINE on one plant.  I'm surprised there was anything left to eat.  I then examined the other plant and found yet another on that one.  All were quickly dispatched, and I hope a bird comes along and has a wonderful meal..  I left the plants hornworm free, cautiously hopeful that the plants would put out new leaves and maybe even more fruit.  Within the greenhouse, there's still a bit of a growing season.

Nibbling on a fruit
 Now, normally I love sphinx moths, aka hummingbird moths. They're beautiful. Alas for them, their offspring are not. If only they'd kept to the wild Solanaceae,  like bittersweet nightshade, they'd still be alive today to tell the tale.  Next year I may plant a couple just for the hornworms and keep a good eye out on the others.

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