Here’s a quick update on the tomato hornworm I wrote about a few weeks ago. As you can see from the above photo, it didn’t get any better for the tomato hornworm, the caterpillar of the five-spotted sphinx moth. I was pulling some of the dying tomato plants out of the garden the other day when I noticed this scene on a bunch of small pear tomatoes. As you can see, some of the wasp cocoons are empty now as the wasps completed their cycle and flew off into the world.
I led you astray in a recent column and I’m here to own up to it and make it right.
I wrote about and included a photograph of a tomato hornworm caterpillar being covered in the small white cocoons of a wasp parasite. That part was true. It was a tomato hornworm and it was covered in the cocoons of braconid wasps. These wasps start their life cycle as an egg laid inside the giant green caterpillar and eat their way out to build their cocoons.
I was mistaken, however, in saying that the caterpillar would have turned into a hummingbird moth – at least the kind we enjoy watching around our flowers in the summer and early fall. That moth is the hummingbird clearwing moth and is not Continue reading →
(Note: This post has been updated from its original content to correct information about the hummingbird moth caterpillar.)
I was all set to follow my last column about fall migration with a closer look at some of the songbirds, including warblers, that are heading south now and will be for the next several weeks.
That column has been put on hold as I saw something in the garden last week that just can’t wait. Experienced vegetable gardeners have likely seen this before, but it was a first for me and I was amazed at the gruesome details when I researched it online.
First, a little background. It is a first-year garden plot. I dug it during April at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Northeast. More than anything else, it was a diversion from the nuttiness going on in the world; something to keep my mind and body occupied during quarantine. I’ve never had a green thumb and I had little hope in the garden ever yielding impressive crops.
As it turns out, my pessimism was warranted. Once the leaves popped on the giant oaks that surround my property, the garden didn’t stand a chance. Tomato plants require how much sunlight? Continue reading →