Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Moment of (un)Zen

I'd like to say I'm posting about the woes of garden pests.
But what I'm really posting about today, dear reader, is my heebie-jeebies.

From our driveway today, I saw the allure of bright red globes. They peeked at me through dense foliage, calling my name. Ah, more tomatoes! I thought. I moved toward them and started collecting them. Then my hand stopped just short of possibly the biggest tomato hornworm I've ever seen.

Yes, I was raised in the country. Yes, I should be immune to such things. I had an aunt who used to play with snakes. Seriously. I was never one of those kids who played with bugs and worms and caterpillars as a kid. You know why? Worms and caterpillars and grubs all give me the heebie-jeebies. Maggots too. Snakes, too, though only when they move. (I won't just kill things I don't like, either. I recognize their importance in the grand scheme. I just don't want to touch them. And I really prefer not to see them.) Tomato hornworms, though, they are garden pests, mostly not at all beneficial. Still, I don't like killing them. And they don't even move much--they mostly just get in the way while they look like giant bumps on logs. Scratch that. They look like giant logs attached to much smaller logs. But they still give me the heebie-jeebies. Probably because they camouflage so well. Right next to the tasty, tasty tomatoes. Last year, we watched for them, but they covered well. We teamed up, and M took down the worms while I reached around the spiders and spiderwebs (those were good--we wanted to leave them intact). I dealt with his heebie-jeebies, he dealt with mine. But now M's at work and the hornworms have come out in force in the past 5 days. They're everywhere. I saw no less than 8 without having to look for them. No small feat, considering my damaged eyes. Of course, they've stripped the foliage off the tops of all the tomato plants, so they aren't hiding as well as they did last year when only one or two usually made it to adulthood. (Three or four are "hiding" in this picture.)

Well, here we were thinking we had good soil and such and were having no problems with the worms this year. Guess we thought wrong. I sent pictures this evening to M at work to show him how many there were, and how huge they were. I guess he's having a rough day, because he told me to "Just get a pair of f**king scissors and kill them." Ew. First off, they're huge. Second, ew. Third, I know they'll pop all over me if I cut them. Fourth, ew. Fifth, when did I ever tell him to just get over it and smash the damn spider? Sixth, scratch that last question; it might come back to haunt me.

Still, I might have been okay. Honestly, I went back after seeing the first worm. I thought maybe I could get most of the tomatoes and just leave a few until M gets home to help me. That was when I saw all the others. And I saw some of them eating (like these two). Which is to say, I saw their heads moving as they sucked on green tomatoes. That was the worst. Ick. Ick, ick, ick.

Okay, if you aren't already, you are more than welcome to laugh at me now. I just had to share, because I couldn't scream at the top of my lungs outside how disgusting that was.

* Stringham high: Yummy, gorgeous, red, ripe tomatoes.
* Stringham low: Hornworms
* Stringham super-high: Possible opportunity to work a contract job for a few months (meaning not losing 45% of my money off the top to taxes of one sort or another)...

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