The Encyclopedia Hydroponica

Your Hydroponics Compendium

Still Here 2 September, 2008

Filed under: Blog — E.H. @ 5:12 am

Just a quick note to let any/everyone know I am still here, and I’m still planning to do the updates of what I’ve been up to, but it’s just been too hectic around here to get enough time to relax and do some blogging.

So I’m around, and I will get everything caught up, just as soon as I’ve got everything else caught up.  Work is crazy, a storm blew over most of the tomato supports, and the house needs an exorcism/deep cleaning from top to bottom.

And if anyone develops a safe, organic spray that doesn’t merely kill hornworms, but causes them to suffer needlessly for days before they die, I want to shake their hand.  On a related note, hornworms do not consider the fan on an A/C unit to be a “fun ride”, but I find it hilarious.  Clearly I need professional help.

…Killing hornworms, that is.

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13 Responses to “Still Here”

  1. Kim Says:

    Oh, I wanna see the vid of that ride!!! Do they mangle before they fly thru the air, or do they hang on for dear life?

  2. E.H. Says:

    Funny you should ask. I’ve discovered that they absolutely cannot willingly let go of a stem. They’ll let go with the front legs and harass any attacker with their head (I presume they can probably bite or spit foul green stuff as a deterrent) but they refuse to ever let go with the back legs until forcibly removed.

    I use this to my advantage. I wouldn’t say I’m squeamish or anything, but I don’t like grabbing bugs simply to kill them, so I jab them off the ‘maters with my pocket knife and then chop them up once they fall.

    If they’ve already stripped the leaf they’re on I’ll just cut that off and either chop them up with the knife or drop them into the A/C fan (if it’s running). But if you hold onto the stem and lower them into the fan it pretty much just beats them to a pulp, rear legs hanging on stubbornly the whole time.

  3. Kim Says:

    Too hiliarious for words. Do they ooze green goo when you chop off their heads?

  4. E.H. Says:

    Yeah, it’s really weird how much of their inside is just that nasty green crud. It’s like they’re disgusting little water balloons.

    I try to always look for the hidden purpose, the underlying “good” of any particular thing. But those accursed caterpillars simply serve no purpose beyond eating my plants and being really disgusting.

    Sure, birds and such eat them, but those birds can eat other stuff. Heck, I’ve got a worm bin that I’d happily feed a few birds from if it meant I could get a tomato or two that didn’t look like it’d been shot with a BB gun.

  5. Kim Says:

    I’ve heard it said that insects will only attack/eat plants that are unhealthy or lacking in nutrition somehow….’food’ for thought. Are the worms getting a jump on the clean-up work?

  6. E.H. Says:

    Well a healthy plant has better defenses against pathogens and pests, but it doesn’t make sense for insects to only target weaker plants. That may be easier for them so they may gravitate in that direction just as many higher predators cull the sick and old out of a herd.

    But I have no doubt anything that eats would prefer a healthier meal if it were available.

  7. Kim Says:

    I just remembered reading somewhere that if you whirl the bugs in a blender and spray the plants with this ‘bug’ spray, it’ll keep other bugs from attacking. Guess they aren’t cannibals.

    If all bugs attacked healthy plants, we wouldn’t have anything to eat, would we? I’ve gardened for years, since a teenager, and not once have I had to deal with bugs on my veggies….and we never sprayed chemicals, either. Go figger.

  8. E.H. Says:

    I’d heard that about bugs too… I just don’t have a blender to devote to making caterpillar smoothies because I just don’t think I’d ever consider it “clean enough” for my food after that.

    The reason not all bugs attack healthy plants is that not all bugs attack plants. But the answer to your question is the same reason we have birds AND worms or lions AND gazelles.

    Things work in a balance. If we actually got enough bugs to eat all the plants we’d have enough bugs to attract every bug-eating thing for miles. And while bugs can, under ideal circumstances, out-breed birds and other higher animals, they can’t out-breed their own insect predators.

    More plants is more food source for destructive bugs, but more destructive bugs is more food source for their predators and so on up the chain.

  9. Kim Says:

    So the key is having a birdbath to attract the birds that eat the bugs that eat the tomatoes that we eat. Got it.

  10. Dan Says:

    This does seem like a very busy time of year for everyone.

    I have never seen one of those hornworms and to be honest they kind of freaky me out. I remember watching Victory Gardener when I was maybe 10 years old and they featured that worm and I wouldn’t go in the tomato patch for the rest of the season.

  11. Metqa Says:

    I saw a picture of a hornworm with lots of little white flecks of rice attached all over it’s back. They weren’t really rice but the parasitice larva of a predatory wasp that preys specifically on hornworm. the larva hatch from the bodies and eats the worm alive as it tries to eat your tomato plant, eventually the worm dies and all the larva mature on it’s body and go out to mate and attach their eggs to other hormworms to repeat the cycle.

    That needlessy painful enough. Sorry I can’t remember the name of the wasp, but it’s easy to find photos and descriptons if you google it

  12. Abby Normal Says:

    I saw this cool thing on the Internet where some kids used cell phones to pop popcorn. Apparently, cell phones manufacture microwaves and that’s what cooks the corn.

    Wonder if it would cook a tomato horned caterpillar??

    Man, there’s just gotta be something way cool like that out there that’ll toast those little bastards!

    I’ll keep lookin’ and let ya know what I come up with.

    :O)

  13. E.H. Says:

    Unfortunately those videos are faked – you can’t cook a microbe with a cell phone.


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