A sphinx moth has dropped by the garden once again. That’s the parent of the hornworm caterpillar Lisa found munching last week on one of our green tomatoes.
The hornworm looks like something out of a medieval fairytale. It’s bright green with slanted white stripes and dark eye-spots on its sides and a curved black horn extending out from its rear end.
Because their coloring is so close to that of the plants they visit, hornworms can be hard to spot at first, clinging as they do to the underside of the branches they defoliate. But once you see one, you think you’re looking at a miniature monster.
A hornworm brigade attacked our tomatoes two summers ago. Fortunately, however, right behind them came a flight of parasitic wasps launching a counterattack of their own. They stopped most of the hornworms in their tracks, but not before the little monsters had stripped bare the tops of several tomato plants.
So far this summer, we’ve spotted just one horn worm, and no parasitic wasps.
Curiously enough, this time the hornworm did not go for the tomato plant’s leaves. This time Lisa found him munching on a tomato.