Tag Archives: hornworms

The devil in the garden

He comes to kill, steal and destroy…and he is green ~ for at least part of his life cycle.

The hornworm.  I have told you about him.  He can chew through a whole tomato plant in 24 hours flat, engorged and gross, 3-4″ of huffing and puffing, swollen and green slimy-ness from the leaves he has munched through, poop piles littering his path below him as he climbs ever upward, destroying the tomato.


No leaves on the plant = no tomatoes.  We HATE the tomato hornworm.

But a lot of gullible people think the moth that deposits the larvae into garden soil around your plants – which becomes the hornworm caterpillar is so cute.

It is all caused by the sphinx moth/hawk moth

But – people think it is a hummingbird.  Because it is large, almost the size of a hummingbird.  It has interesting coloration and design, not at all bland-blah like the gray-powdery june moth that sweeps through here from Nebraska in sometimes plague-like proportions.  This moth flies sort of upright like the bird and has this feathery looking tuft of something or another and is really quite huge and monstrous.  This moth is the enemy of the tomato and other garden goodies.  the ENEMY!


In my efforts to truly be organic and not use bug killers in my garden, this year I have taken to carrying a fly-swatter with me to put the smack-down on moths which seek to lay eggs in my sweat-composted soil.  ‘Tis better, I do think, to save my crops and eat the food I have determined to grow than to let the bugs have it and a little swat and down is better than spraying chemicals or poison sprinkling granules.  I admit I may look a little crazy out there, swinging a plastic aparatus at a flighty moth – but I give it a go and some days have success.

But dang the “hummingbird moths.” A kick scan through Facebook and Instagram and 82% of everyone I know is posting a picture of it and celebrating it, thinking it is a hummingbird!  People think they are cute!

The other day, while I was armed and ready for battle as 4 of them were sucking juice from my Hibiscus,  I caught some eyes peering out the kitchen window from a house across the way.   I was swinging away.  I sheepishly smiled and waved wondering if she thought I was totally crazy?

A little later Dave happened upon a conversation about all the beautiful little “hummingbirds” in the neighborhood, resistant to the suggestion that they were moths.  When he told me, we realized –  someone in my neighborhood now thinks I beat the crap out of hummingbirds with a fly-swatter.  The word is spreading.

Great.  Just great.

sphinx moth = hawk moth = hummingbird moth = heavy-bodied, strong flying insects = from full-grown hornworm larvae = gross = evil = the devil in my garden = yes I kill them if I can.


Tomato Haters, Beware

There’s a new kid in town!   HA!

I kept noticing these nice, large and juicy-looking tomatoes that seemed to have started ripening, but then never quite kept going.   But never-you-mind, I was getting plenty from the other plants, anyway.   Finally, though  I had to find out “what gives??”

Guess what?   I forgot I had plopped a lemon-tomato into the ground!   I got this armload of juicy, tangy, pure-yellow tomatoes.   They pack a powerful punch of a taste, I tell you!   They are yellow through and through with no “green gooey seedy” centers, which Bryan accuses the red tomato of holding.   Oh-they are gooooood!


Sadly, today, I discovered the work of probably at least 2 hornworms chewing up my tomato plants.   I have never had a hornworm since living here (6 years) and this is not good.   Their natural enemy is the wasp and we seem to have plenty of them zooming around, but they did not do their job.   So, when I was cutting back some stringy petunias (which you really must force yourself to do about this time each  year for a spectacular late summer display) and a wasp charged me, I got out the spray and killed about 50 of them.   Dave threw away their little village.   Really-the one reason I let them live in the first place: hornworms!   I am going in deep to find those fat tomato killers, who  pretty much  look like  Heimlich from “A Bug’s Life,” (very rotund when having recently gorged on my tomato leaves) but are nothing more than satanic destroyers from hell.   They shall die I tell you!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…  


I ran into Baby Averi at Target and she told me to go ahead and roast up a batch of her green chiles (Averi’s Anaheim greens).   I picked a pile, along with some Macho Nacho Jalepenos and a couple of cucumbers.   The chiles  are slow roasting in the oven next to a pork butt and, baby, it is gonna be delish!   Green Chile is quintessential Colorado!

I have this strange domestic, cooking thing happening.   Somebody stop me…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF:   Kill the hornworms.   Kill the hornworms.   Kill the hornworms…Seek and destroy!

pictured: lemon tomatoes from my garden, a nasty hornworm; Gav and Averi investigating her garden area, the chiles she grew…