It seems that whenever we start talking – or writing – about wildlife in and around the garden, our fellow gardeners always have their own stories to tell. Here’s a guest post from our good friend and Master Gardener, Denise, who has also had some wild encounters recently:
It has been a number of years since I had a real veggie garden. I decided 2010 was my summer and got to planning. Before I put a seed into the soil, I decided the garden would be organic. I spent a good part of the growing season fretting about tomato blight and hand- picking Mexican Bean Beetle larva and a few adults. Then I found it – the dreaded Tomato Hornworm, Manduca quinquemaculata, munching on and pooping all over my beautiful tomato plants. I’m sorry, but these worms are absolutely revolting.
I find it amazing how they clutch for dear life to tomato leaves and vines. Everyday I would go into the garden and pull them off my plants. With every plunk into my container of soapy water I smiled, ah what joy. Then I saw it. At first I thought what the heck… what kind of fungus is this? Then I realized this was no fungus. I was looking at a hornworm covered with Braconid Wasp cocoons on its back. Talk about joy – and I didn’t have to pay for it. I left the worm on the leaf and continued my bug hunting. Every day I found at least one more worm on another tomato plant doing nature’s work. I don’t know where the wasps came from but I hope they come back next year. So for me, an uninvited guest became a wonderful garden host. Too bad I can’t say the same for the woodchuck!