Thursday, June 21, 2012
when to call in the big guns
This week I have found some unwanted visitors in the garden. We found not one, but two black widow spiders on a tomato plant. What the what??? I have never seen a black widow out in the open air, sunning on a leaf. They are usually in places like the corners of sheds, under a stack of logs, not climbing up a tomato plant. She was very pretty, but she ended up under my boot. Now we are extra cautious when picking tomatoes, always looking for signs of webs.
And then there was this guy that I found this morning. If you're thinking "wow, that looks really big, but it must be the close up zoom of Mandi's awesome new camera", you'd be wrong my friend (about the size, not about the camera- it really is awesome!). This tomato hornworm is over 3 inches long! And it is the perfect green of a tomato plant. Can you believe I nearly missed seeing something this monstrous?
I have not used one conventional spray on my plants ever. I usually smash stink bugs after picking each one off. I feed caterpillars and grubs to the chickens. But when I saw this guy I realized that I may have a real problem on my hands. If left alone, horn worms can knock out the whole crop very fast. So I turned to the big guns- Bt Worm Killer. Bt is technically safe to use in organic gardens, but it was still unsettling to me. Anything near the "poison" category makes me nervous!
You may have seen hornworms in your garden too. They actually start out very small, like a normal caterpillar. If undetected they can get between 3-4 inches long. They typically munch on leaves, but this guy had eaten half of one of my mortgage lifter tomatoes. Mortgage lifters weigh about a pound each. Each! He had eaten a half a pound of tomato over night!
Have you found any monsters in the garden lately? Do tell!
Please come back on Monday. I have an exciting project that I need your crafty selves to help me with!