Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Stealing tomatoes

Tomato thief

Over the weekend, it was finally time to cut down the remnants of our garden, including our delicious and highly productive cherry tomato plants. Amidst the clipping, I discovered one of these very large and very green caterpillars on the soil. I had wondered if it was an invasive, since it almost looks tropical with its bright colors, vivid patterns, and large size (fat as my fingers and a few inches long) -- but a quick google search showed that its a native to North America, and one of our largest caterpillars, the tobacco (or tomato) hornworm.

To my delight, as I moved to the next plant, I found a handful of these guys munching on our little green tomatoes.
Poised to strike

In addition to their cute little red tail spikes, I really like the false eyes on their face -- it really looks like a bright eye, but upon closer inspection, it very much appeared to just be an evolutionarily creative spot.

For a sense of scale, here's a shot of me holding one on a branch that I rescued from the compost bin:
Caterpillar scale

It was fun to find these guys late in the season, but I suppose I'd be a tad disappointed if they had showed up earlier and eaten all of our tomatoes!

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