Tag Archives: moths

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.


Garden Peril

It’s not all glory out there.  The garden can be rough at times.  Just a little fair warning if you think it is all roses and tomatoes.

Hollyhocks can Hurt.

julyish-023 julyish-034

Yeah, they are splashy, showy and plopped themselves in my garden without my help, initially – easy to grow, little work required.  And they even make great toothpick ballerinas, but geesh: they are stickery.  If you have to tame them at all, cut them back or dig up the little babies they poop all over the darn place, they will attack you head to toe with the most minute little slivers of scratchiness ever.  You can’t see them, no, but you know they are there.  And you have to change clothes to go on.  Mean. 


Never trust the fluttering, white, cabbage-moth.

They flutter.  “Oh, lookeeee…” the grandbebes cry with glee.  For they think it is a butterfly – a pretty, dancing butterfly.  But no, it is not.  So while they frolic and zoom about, diving and rolling and having their little party in my garden, they best be warned: I don’t trust them.

Do you know why?  Because they will lay eggs from which will come cabbage-white-moth-caterpillars and those little suckers will chew my plants up!  They are trying to take control of my vegetables.  And having not helped one iota in any of the work of my garden, I am not sorry to say I do not welcome them to enjoy the fruit of my labor.  Not at all.

herbs the herbs

The grasshoppers (known sinners) want to rule the land.

Oh, sure, they are cute in the spring when they hop around all sweet and innocent-looking.  But they can chew up your plants like nobody’s business, so you should plan your attack early and hard against those boogers.  By this time they fly like some attack-helicopter when I approach and could probably give me a concussion if they actually flew into my head.  The buzz of their wings is annoyingly loud and they, let me just tell you, are not at all godly like their Praying-Mantis cousins.  They are tobacco chewers and spitters, if ever I have seen any,  and have quite an attitude at their little meetings where they are most probably planning plagues!

Mama Spiders are bitchy.  Oops.  I can’t say that.  My mom might read this.

Well.  They are. 

They are building their homes and webs on my plants (eating my bounty), but have no trouble at all telling me where to get off when I water or disrupt them in any fashion.  Lucky for them I consider the work they do of value to my kingdom (and I once read about their very likeable cousin in Charlotte’s Web).  Or they’d be out, I tell you.  Out!

purple-petunias1 guini-020 the purple petunias & Guini in the garden

Danger Lurks.

But I am being careful and aware.  Don’t worry about me.  Just pray for me.  Pray a lot.

In the garden where life is fine (albeit dangerous at times)…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF:  Clean-up the daylilies, mulch the peppers a little more for these cooler evenings, talk to the tomatoes, thump on the spaghetti squash, train the unruly beans, pick up the pile of spent hibiscus and weed behind the pool.

Fall Frost

I think we had an actual, true frost today.  I know it was 58 degrees in my kitchen when I started up the coffee pot.  And no, I will not turn on the heat, yet.  I am a die-hard.  Can I make it to November?  This is the question. 

Most of the plants seem to be perking back up, even though I have done nothing to save them.  Even the zucchini, whose leaves froze and look soggy, dark and droopy, are boasting some bright new flowers in response to the returning sunlight – after 3 very overcast days.

I am studying and preparing for the Leaving a Legacy Intensive kick-off this weekend, but keep getting distracted by 3, small adorable orange moths of some sort.  Though they are probably depositing some evil larvae all over the garden as we speak, I think I will call them butterflies because they are delightful as they frolic,  alternately swooping and circling and tag-playing, with sunning themselves on the patio and garden rocks  Try as I might, and though I swear I have seen them all in the view-finder at once repeatedly, I cannot seem to get the camera to click quickly enough to capture all three, though they are dancing and prancing about just inches from me here near the glass doors.

Yes, the garden is slowly, but surely shutting down for the year, but it makes each plant that is still showing all the more ravishing, makes me more grateful.  Why, the petunias are practically haughty today, all purple and abundant, flowering with gusto, unaffected by the cold – perhaps even encouraged by it?



Today I am praising God for: the return of the sun…hot coffee (and decaf for when I have reached my limit)…the 3 fanciful orange “butterflies” performing gleefully outside my window…the grape tomatoes, packed with flavor, my morning snack…the love of a good man: my husband, my friend, my lover-the one who talks me off the ledges…my family, both the one I came from and the one I am getting to create, still…e-mails in “secret code” from grandkids…people who know how to pray…the sweet Presence of God, who joins me on the first sound of a song……First frost-warm home…the wisdom of the Word (I am in Proverbs today!).  And the temp in my kitchen has reached 63 degrees.  I am thankful!

Blessings in all things to you and yours!…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF:  So glad I didn’t get in a hurry to uproot the sagging sunflowers (see photo here).  Yesterday they were the host to a couple of amazingly beautiful bluejays and I got to watch!  What would I have missed by stripping them away before their whole work was through?  Get back to Legacy notes…

Pictured, top, left to right: the orange “butterflies” sunning themselves on rock and concrete.  Bottom, left to right: the first two were taken through the window on the Dahlia plant that is apparently enthralling the little “flutterbies.”  Finally, the mum, quiet the summer through, has now exploded into this happy hello in its off-the-beaten-path locale.  I snapped  it chasing butterflies.

UPDATE  10.14.08 – I have been informed that my 3 little orange “moths” were actually baby Monarch Butterflies.  I didn’t know Monarchs were ever this small?  I hope they keep visiting!