Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Garden Update: Tomato Hornworm Edition

Our garden is coming right along. The corn is something like 11 feet tall now. We are still getting lots of snap beans. The cherry tomatoes are slowly, but steadily producing and, tonight, we got our first paste tomato. As I mentioned in my last post, we had friends visiting this past weekend. She noticed a tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemanculata) on one of our Brandywine tomatoes. She picked it off and we didn't think much more of it beyond making a note to check the plants for more of them. Monday night, we found this:
That is a tomato hornworm covered in what appears to be eggs. Even creepier, we found another one that was completely desiccated and the eggs hatched. Some googling revealed that, not only do we have hornworms, we have Braconid wasps. These beneficial wasps lay their eggs in the tomato hornworm. The larvae feed on the caterpillar while it is still alive, emerging once they are ready to build cocoons and undergo metamorphosis.  The white, egg-shaped structures on the back of our hornworm are the cocoons. While all of this isn't so good for the caterpillar, it is definitely good for our tomatoes.
 The garden has grown a lot since I last posted a picture of the whole thing.
We missed a zucchini under some leaves.  The large one in this picture is the size of Michael's forearm. It is destined for bread. The pink beans are bird egg beans, a shell bean. We took a chance that the watermelon above was ripe. It had all of the signs: yellow spot on the bottom, dried tendril and hollow-sounding, but unfortunately, it wasn't ripe.
 Red pear tomatoes, a variety of cherry tomato.
 An early pumpkin.
Our Milkweed in bloom.

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