Some of you may recall my declaration last summer that I was done with tomatoes. I had had it up to here with the leaf-footed bugs sucking out my tomato juices and the squirrels carrying off and half eating my few ripe tomatoes. BUT, I'm a sucker. I couldn't resist the tomato plants at the garden center and went for it anyway. And what do I get? More bugs! Yay!
And speaking of, this morning I noticed the tell-tale signs of the presence of a tomato or tobacco hornworm - the larvae of the sphinx moth, Manduca sexta - tomato stems completely denuded and chewed to a nub. So I followed the trail down the stems and lo and behold: a hornworm!
Now, I do have a major love for sphinx moths, so this always puts me in a quandry.
Most folks would probably not hesitate to pluck that little f*cker off the plant and drown it in soapy water, squish it, or throw it over the fence. But I LOVE sphinx moths and their caterpillars. Look how exquisitely gorgeous this little creature is, all plump and green with eye-like spiracles passively inhaling my garden air. It's crocheted prolegs holding tight against the tomato stem. It's head and thorax held tight like a sphinx. The scary red horn on its end that's nothing more than ornament - not really prickly at all.
And the adult moths are like little fairies swirling around the gardens in the dark evenings, sipping nectar from plants like datura.
So, probably, since those other crappy bugs are eating my tomatoes and I'm unlikely to get many for myself anyway, I will leave my little hornworm to devour the tomato plant. He will get much bigger and much juicier. Perhaps he will become infested with little parasitoid wasps. Maybe a bird will find him for dinner. Or perhaps, he will leave some tomatoes for me.