Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tomato ~ Tomatoes

However you say it or spell it! I am having a tomato crisis!!! Look at how sad they look - leaves turning yellow and brown and falling off! And look at what else I found - (look away if you have a weak stomach)- droppings of some sort! And look at what it is doing to my tomatoes!! Any ideas?? Well I checked my sources this weekend. My dad had no idea. He thought it might be rats!! GASP!!! Not in my yard!!! But only one problem - whatever was attacking my tomatoes was only eating at the top - it didn't even look at the ones on or near the ground! Birds??? Well birds don't leave droppings like that. Hmmmmm. So I checked with my hubby's grandparents. They have been gardening for years and I thought they might have some ideas. Squirrels maybe?? Well in some neighborhoods yes - but not in mine. When we moved to this house it was new - with no trees in sight except the little twigs the builder put in the front yard. So NO squirrels here. They have yet to migrate (?) or move back to our neighborhood and we have been here for almost seven years! Rabbits perhaps? NO! They can't eat from the top of the vine!!! So today little honey and I went on a scavenger hunt. A mini science lesson if you will. Guess what I found?? Can you see it??? Photograph by: James Castner, University of Florida Four inches in length!! And about one inch in circumference!! It is huge!! And so pretty! I have never seen a caterpillar so big! I wonder what it will turn into? A big beautiful butterfly? Or just a big moth? Well little honey ran to his room and got his bug collector kit and momma put him inside so we could go investigate on the Internet. He was being a little shy for the camera and tilting his head!!! Any idea what it is yet???? It is called a tobacco hornworm or it's scientific name - Manduca sexta(Linnaeus). Weird! It also has a cousin the tomato hornworm. They are similar in size and color but their markings are different and the tomato hornworm lives farther south. They completely defoliate a plant - almost over night! This explains everything! I guess it starts to eat at night and then eats everything in sight it can get it's little mouth on and then drops the left overs all over the ground!! Little honey asked "Can we keep it?" Well I think we will try and keep the one in little honey's bug container to see what the moth will look like in a few weeks. What a great science lesson!! I have a feeling he may not make it -I think he has to bury himself in dirt to turn into a pupal cell. But we will try! It won't look as pretty as I hoped - but if it lives I will keep you posted! Now - off to the garden to dispose of the other four I found!! ICK!! Any one want to come over and do this job for me?????


Anonymous said...

My tomato plants look like yours and must have the same worm. The fruit on my plants is being eaten at the bottom. I've probably lost about eight good-sized ones. The beast is only picking the fruit that would have looked perfect sliced on a plate.
Aunt T.

rlvd said...

oh sick...we call these tomato worms...i am traumatized from stumbling across a few in my childhood ;-)

Just Jenny said...

yes ~ it didn't leave a good impression on me either. And it didn't last long in little honey's bug container! I had to pitch the whole thing, worm and all a few days later!!!
But we caught a TOAD last night, and it is hanging out in the toddler pool on the deck!!


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