Saturday, September 12, 2009

I don't know anyone who likes finding certain insects in their vegetable garden. There are those that do such incredible damage that they cannot be tolerated. They can decimate entire plants in a very short amount of time...I'm referring to grasshoppers - large, ugly, low flying menaces that seem to have found paradise in my backyard.

Today was a day when I had relatively little to do in the garden besides water. As I stood holding the hose, day dreaming and soaking up the sun, I noticed some movement amidst the leaves. Something sprang into the air, started its propellers and flew to the next tomato plant.It landed right in front of me, leaving me face to face with an ugly brown grasshopper the size of a robin.

Now, before I say anything else, please know that I ALWAYS try to use natural methods to eradicate pests from my garden before doing what I have to do to protect my plants from these particular evildoers. I read someplace that coriander and horehound are natural deterrents so I planted it everywhere. Not only did the grasshopper population multiply, the herbs attracted all kinds of other unwanted pests as well.

I learned long ago that traditional methods such as stomping, smashing or drowning don't work on grasshoppers. They have a protective armor that cannot easily be destroyed. So, I devised my own method...grab the long bladed garden shears, sneak up behind the monster and snap! Chop it in half! This method is incredibly effective (if you've got very good aim) but it often results in one half of the prehistoric creature remaining in your clippers. It is not pleasant to look at the eyes of a grasshopper popping out of it's head. And left me forewarn you, if you chop a grasshopper in half and it drops to the ground, the front half can still hop or jump and try to escape!

I am not a wimp but I've decided that I just can't deal with grasshoppers, so when I encounter one, as I did today, I yell "grasshopper...come quick" and let somebody else do the job. But a few minutes later, I yelled out "oh my G-D, this one is as big as a crow...get the grasshopper getters"! And this was my afternoon...large brown grasshopper on the tomatoes, green grasshopper on the roses, small gray grasshopper on another tomato until seven grasshoppers had encounters with the grasshopper getter.

As I continued with my watering, staring off into the dense foliage of one of the tomato plants, I saw it...the hugest bright green tomato hornworm that I have ever seen! This time I yelled out "you've gotta come see this"! This was not an ordinary hornworm. I've never really seen one move much but this one was twisting it's head back and chomping at something! There was a bee trying to land on the worm's back and he really didn't like that much! I have never seen anything like it - the show was absolutely amazing! This was nature at work and I was fascinated. I ran for my video camera, which of course, had a low battery. Then I grabbed my digital camera with the hope that I could capture the drama to show anyone willing to look at my photos. Finally, although I enjoyed witnessing this future episode from the Discovery Channel, I decided enough was enough...the leaf , along with the caterpillar was cut off and put in the green trash bin.

Once again I picked up the hose and returned to my daydreaming. But there, from the corner of my eye I saw it...the hornworm's twin!

I remember the days when finding a hornworm on my tomato plants was devastating. Today, it was entertaining. I guess it's just a matter of perspective.

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