Cappers Farmer Blogs > Our Fair Field

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By Renee-Lucie Benoit


Tags: Garden Pests, Hornworms, Praying Mantis, Traveling, Pepper Plants, Renee-Lucie Benoit,

Renee-Lucie BenoitI water my garden every day. I have to. There's no rain coming from the sky to help me out here. So I'm happy to say I have a robust crop of two kinds of Japanese peppers: PIM green bell pepper and Shisito. I have also Thai hot chilis coming in.

Unfortunately, I also have a robust crop of tomato hornworms. For some reason the worms are ignoring the tomatoes and going gangbusters on my pepper plants. The very day I was taking off for a weeklong vacation to see my sister in Colorado I noticed that something was eating the leaves. Upon investigation I was shocked and annoyed to find at least seven of these Godzilla-like behemoths munching placidly away. Oh, you buggers!

So there I was picking off these monsters in between breaks to pack. It was: What's more important? Packing or picking hornworms? I absolutely knew I could not leave the hornworms for a week to do their business. I would not be coming back to any pepper plants if I did. So, truthfully, it was picking hornworms that was more important. As I picked worms I thought, "Hmm, well, I can do without this in Colorado ... I can do without that ... Whatever I forget I can get there or borrow from my sister." All you gardeners know what I mean. When it comes to protecting defenseless vegetables from marauding insects, there's only one course of action and that is ... action! No procrastination allowed! So what if your plane leaves in two hours? You've got to pick the hornworms!

Reader, I made it. I made it to the plane but not without a modicum of anxiety. It was worth it to know that my pepper plants would thrive. I'd do it again any day.

That's a quarter next to Godzilla the horn worm. Sorry the picture is so bad. I had to go pack.

That's a quarter next to Godzilla the horn worm. Sorry the picture is so bad. I had to go pack.

So I got back home and all my frantic work went for something, and I have really nice peppers but, of course, the worms are back again. I picked off seven more the last few days. I'd like to know how do they get so big so fast? I figure some winged insect (butterfly? moth?) comes along and lays eggs and then they hatch and then there should be baby worms but, NO, I see nary a one until I see the Godzilla hanging off a stripped stem. No matter. I know what I have to do. I pick them and give the hapless things to the chickens who are happy to see me coming with the juicy morsels. Hey, it's the circle of life, right? If you're going to eat my vegetables it's only right and fair that someone else eats you, right? I feel no remorse. Jai Shri Hare. Go on to your next incarnation.

This morning I saw this beauty. I love you, praying mantis! I love you and the little frogs that live in my garden. I am so happy to see you all. Live long and prosper! I'll get the hornworms and you can have everything else. Teamwork. So nice.

This morning I saw this beauty. I love you, praying mantis!