Monday, August 27, 2012

Everything Eats. Everything Gets Eaten.

What we've managed to create here at Chez Brown is an incredibly diverse eco-system in which everything eats and everything gets eaten.

For example, Little Fire Faery found this Tobacco Hornworm on the tomato plants today.

She came running in to tell me that there was a hornworm that was being eaten by maggots. Having read about this sort of thing before, I knew that it wasn't maggots, but rather wasp larvae. The wasp laid its eggs inside the hornworm, and the maggot-looking growths are the pupae of the wasp.

I knew there were hornworms out there, but I've never considered spraying my tomatoes. I'm also pretty lax about trying to pick them off the tomato plants (they actually blend pretty well with the leaves). My girls usually find them, when they're found, and they get fed to the chickens. Personally, I like this approach better. Do nothing, and the wasps take care of the (potential) problem.

Because this hornworm has been parasitized, he will not eat my tomatoes.

And, then, I can eat my tomatoes.

Everything eats. Everything gets eaten.

It's a pretty amazing thing to witness such a huge diverse system on such an incredibly small piece of land.


  1. I will say I haven't had parasitized ones, but I have had to pick off more than my liking this year. I do hope you don't have our other garden parasites this year, green stink bugs (brown and mottled too). They are so incredibly difficult to manage. My marigolds did not do their job this year, so I've had to wrangle stink bugs, hornworms, potato beetle larvae and japanese beetles this year. The wasp population has dwindled as well as the bees so with the heat and rain we've got bugs.
    Being an organic gardener makes a challenge but I wouldn't have it any other way. Cheers to this years harvest, no matter what the issues have been.

  2. I've picked off about 5 of these so far this year. I throw them to our chickens, who (surprisingly) do eat them. Have to admit, I feel a twinge of guilt about the worm's fate...but not for long ;)

  3. Amazing, yes, icky, yes. Nature, so pretty, so mean..

  4. I agree. Leave it to nature and she will create a balance. When we think we know better, we try to control part of the complex cycle, upsetting the balance and creating havoc.

  5. Nice one Wendy! We also do not spray anything, and take the organic (let nature do her thing) approach. We find that if one bug starts to multiply, then very quickly their predators also increase in numbers and sort everything out for me.