Visited a friend today to see what’s new on her farm and was led down memory lane. We were in the vegetable garden admiring her various heritage tomato plants when I saw the BIGGEST tomato horn-worm I’ve ever seen. Fatter than my middle finger he was; his fat, juicy, green and white and black-striped body with its tell-tale black horn jutting from his head; or is it his tail, brought me right back to my own tomato patches of the past. I instinctively grasped the horn, mindless of my friend’s horror and pulled him away from the leafless stem one suction-cup leg at a time, until he hung from my thumb and index finger squirming and spitting, and the battle was on. We found five-inch-long ones and one-inch longs and all sizes in between. We marveled at their initial invisibility until I recalled the poop is one easy way to find these destructive, hungry monsters. They eat and eat and eat, then litter the leaves and soil beneath themselves with substantial black poops. My inner murderer, which you will recognize from having read MasterGardener – the novel, becomes highly active in garden scenarios. A contest ensued as to who could squirt their horn-worm's innards the furthest underfoot. The garden was left littered with flattened striped bodies, juices glistening against the dry earth, returning their stolen spoils back from whence they began. Rejuvenated and refreshed, my fingers green with horn-worm spit, I declared myself the winner, having rid the tomato patch of fifty-six assorted–sized horn-worms, and saved, I do not know how many, ripening tomatoes from death. I haven’t felt so good since the last infestation. Perhaps it’s time I got back to planting tomatoes. Perhaps I could hire myself out as a horn-worm picker. Perhaps I should just get back to writing.
For more on the subject see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomato_hornworm