Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hunting Hornworms

One of our hobbies is organic gardening. Because we don't use pesticides, I find myself spending some time each day checking the plants for known pests. It takes patience and a careful eye to spot the tomato hornworm.

Tomato hornworm
Notice how well he blends into the tomato plant. His feet are like suction cups, clicking to the branch, allowing him to hang upside-down while he devours leaves. A single hornworm can defoliate a tomato plant in a short amount of time. So when I spot the stripped stems, I look carefully under each branch until I find the little villain. Then I pull him off. It's like ripping apart velcro, except when he finally lets loose, he squirms and even tries to wriggle up and attach himself to my finger. I rip his body in half and throw the gooey pieces on the ground. I miss the days we had ducks and geese. They would come running for the worm and I'd feed it to one of them, trying to be fair and alternate between them.

The first time I saw a hornworm, it was bigger than the one shown in the picture. Its horn was fully developed and red. I thought he'd make a great model for some demonic villain. I still have yet to write that story...but I will someday. Who knows...maybe this summer's hornworms will inspire a story. When it happens, it'll be a horrific one.

As for this guy, he is goo on the ground now. I'm just thankful I found him.


  1. I have seen the big ones! Back east! We have tomato plants here in CA however, they seem to do ok. And grown organically of course!

  2. I had never seen a tomato hornworm in California. They must be a Midwest/East Coast pest.

  3. I'll send Kenzie to visit-she'll eat anything!

  4. I bet she wouldn't eat one of these nasty critters.