I have mentioned the tomato hornworm before, because it's a very common and fairly destructive garden pest. Luckily, I'm pretty good at tracking this leaf-munching menace. Following the tiny poop trail--or, more accurately, looking at the underside of the leaves near the poop--I found my culprit, chewing on a tasty tomato leaf.
This was a fairly young one, so he and his fellow hornworms (four on this particular plant) hadn't managed to do too much damage. But these caterpillars grow fast, and can really strip a plant quickly if you don't get rid of them. So, I searched the whole plant, picked off each hornworm and fed them to my chickens. I felt a little bad, but, um, well... circle of life?
Speaking of grisly caterpillar deaths, check out this scene. Moments after feeding the last hornworm to my hens, I noticed a mysterious thingy hanging from a different tomato plant. I picked off the leaf, turned it over and discovered the brown, shriveled husk of a caterpillar.
I am not sure how this caterpillar met its nasty fate. Perhaps that little insect, who claimed to just be innocently walking by, had something to do with it? I have heard of parasitic wasps that lay their eggs in caterpillars, killing them. So, perhaps that's what happened. If so, I'm delighted to have some new beneficial insects in my garden. I hope they stick around.