August 14, 2003

Oh Man!  I'm in troooouble!
Wife is in Italy.  Before she 
left, she told me to keep an
eye on the vegetable garden.

I forgot.

When I was mowing the lawn this afternoon, I glanced over at the garden and noticed half of the tomato plants were
eaten down to the bare stalks.

Every single plant had its very own late instar Tobacco Hornworm (Manduca sextamunching away.  Once the little bastards were done with the leaves, they went to work on the tomatoes.

They're gone now.  I couldn't bring myself to kill them, but I clipped off the branches holding the behemoth sphingids and moved them into the woods.  Some may pupate, some may not.  They stand as much a chance as survival as I do when Betsy gets home.
They turn into a real nice looking moth, though, don't they?  The adult is called a Carolina Sphinx.   I took this picture (it's from a slide) in July of 1999.  
September 9, 2004

Biological control stepped in this year, as evidenced by these Cotesia congregata cocoons.

These little parasitoid wasps developed, and fed, within the caterpillar's body, staying away from the vital organs so the host could continue to provide them food.  When ready to pupate, they chew their way out and spin these cocoons.  

This caterpillar is done eating.

Nature can sure seem cruel, can't she.
I thought I'd add this photo from a slide I took a number of years ago.  It's a Manduca sexta pupa.  

Note the sheath for the proboscis.

You can almost hear the sigh of relief given upon entering this stage having escaped the parasitic wasps.