Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The garden is full of wonders!

Here in North Carolina we have had lots of rain this summer.
In addition to all the rain, we have been traveling a good bit, so our yard is in serious need of attention.
I have been trimming hedges, pulling weeds, and was getting ready to tend to the pond when I grabbed a few items from the garage and noticed something in the bushes.

Can you see it?

Here, I'll go a little closer.  Can you see it now?

I was so excited when I first saw this green caterpillar.
I quickly peered in for a close-up look and noticed all the cocoons on her body.  It didn't matter to me what kind of caterpillar it was, I just thought all the white cocoons hanging on were soon-to-be butterflies.  Nice thought huh!  Almost as quickly as I noticed her, I headed back off to do my yard work.

Each time I headed into the garage for another tool, I'd take a peek at the caterpillar.  And for a day or two as I passed this bush, I would take a peek at the caterpillar and all the babies.
I mean they are cocoons and caterpillars make all kinds of cocoons, right?

Well, I was WRONG!
Are you squeamish?...

Often, when I am intrigued by wonders in the garden, I will Google-it.  What I found was that this green caterpillar, with white cocoons on its back, is actually a Tomato Hornworm.  They eat tomatoes which is bad for the gardener, but that didn't bother me as much as this did...

It seems that the Braconid wasp likes to use the Tomato Hornworm as a host for her babies.

The Braconid wasp injects her larvae into the Tomato Hornworm rendering it helpless.
The larvae then feed on the caterpillars insides and when the larvae pupate they drill holes coming back out through the skin and spin white cocoons on the caterpillars body.
Once mature, in a few days, they emerge from the cocoon and fly away.

I was sad after learning this.

And though the information said that the Braconid wasp was a beneficial insect, I just couldn't shake the thought of that poor caterpillar being eaten from the inside out and dying so slowly.

So I broke the limb away from the shrub,
laid the limb and caterpillar on the ground,
and I stepped on it.
I mean, I smashed it REAL good.

I don' know if that was the right thing to do,
but the only thing that came to my mind was that if I were that caterpillar,
and dying that slow death,
which I could only imagine must be agonizing,
I would want someone to end my suffering by stepping on me!

The garden, FULL of wonders.  Some of which, even though creepy, tug at the heart!


You may like these wonders too...

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  1. Okay- I gotta tell you- I got kind of creeped out reading about that caterpillar being eaten from the inside out...and then I "heard" the squoosh of you stepping on him. I don't think I am quite ready for lunch now- lol I think I might save this post as an appetite suppressant!;>) xo Diana

    1. Sorry ND! I chose to squish over agony but agree it is all too creepy! It was supposed to be beautiful butterflies! Why couldn't it just have been soon-to-be butterflies!

  2. Oh goodness, I may have smashed those white wormy squiggles without any assistance from Google. Due to all of our rain, we have slugs, caterpillars, and various types of plant rot. Plus a warren of rabbits has moved onto our property and eaten scads of flowers. It is rather daunting to think about.

  3. Nature can be so cruel. I think you did the right thing.

  4. OH.MY... I've never seen, or heard of anything like this, but probably would have made the same choice you did. *cringe

    Gorgeous white squirrel!!! That cricket is getting a free ride! LOL!

  5. Oh my gosh! That is an awful sight now that you know what's going on with the caterpiller. I had no idea that kind of thing existed. It's like a horror movie for caterpillers!! LOL! I feel bad for it either way. I'm not sure which was worse, being stepped on or being eaten away slowly. Your method was definitely the kinder one though. Poor guy!

  6. I was late signing up Cindy so came in on this post. OMG for such a horrible life, the little bugger really is pretty if you look at him objectively, but I don't know how you could stand to squash it. Not that you should'nt have but did it make a sound?? Ugg!!..Happy Tuesday..Judy

  7. Cindy I'm like you. That bothered me too, I don't like to even think about it.
    Yikes, nature can be so harsh.

  8. Actually any caterpilllars kind creep me out Cindy. I have had a bad experience with them when I was little, the furry kind, because a whole bunch dropped on me one time and I was scared like crazy and itched even more! I was about 7 or 8 and I can't forget! So though pudgy and cute, I still have that horrid memory that it's hard for me to look at them without trying to 'kill then'! So make sure to don't show it to me when I'm in your garden dear. ;-)

  9. I think you did a good thing putting it out of its misery.. Thats a lot more than doctors do for patients.
    You are a very humane person~!

  10. I have seen those tomato worms before but never the white wasp larvae....YUCK....like big maggots. I normally love rice but I think it might be a while before I eat any. I agree that you did the right thing to put it out of its misery but I would not have had the courage to squish it.

  11. I am creeped out by any kind of insect, bug and all...not sure how I survived 3 months in the middle of nowhere in West Africa.

  12. Oh my goodness Cindy -- that really is creepy! Ughhh. I think you absolutely did the right thing; nature can indeed be very cruel. Our family used to watch "Planet Earth" on the Discovery Channel several years ago, and I had to stop watching because they always showed the predator killing other animals and I just couldn't watch anymore. I know that all animals have to eat, but I prefer not to watch them do it.

    Hugs to you,


  13. Cindy you did the right thing by smashing that caterpillar, it was really a very kind act. Now me on the other hand would have smashed it the very first day I saw it...yes without even knowing the full story of it's suffering. I would have smashed it for looking so very yucky AND to put ME out of MY misery! LOL

  14. Everything looks great !!!! Have a wonderful day

  15. Yuck!! I don't like those worms!!

  16. I like your concept of what it was much better than the reality. Either way, it is fascinating. Where in NC are you?

  17. I knew what it was immediately when I saw the close-up. I would have done the same thing, too :(

    I've seen black squirrels but never a white one.

  18. You definitely did the right thing ~ The thought of that caterpillar suffering so slowly and agonizingly made me so sad - You were so right to end her suffering quickly ! Good for you !
    I have seen one other white squirrel - when my daughter was a student at Ohio State University, there was a white squirrel that must have lived around her dorm - everyone knew about it and we did see it for several years (I'm assuming it was the same one ! But, who knows ...? )

  19. EWWWWW is really my first reaction. I was really hoping the story was going to end in a beautiful butterfly. You did the right thing!

  20. Cindy, good for you!! That was such a sad story and horrible. Nature is fascinating, but can be cruel, too. We live on a pond and every year Canada Geese mate and try to raise their babies here. However, we have seen so many of them not make it and it breaks our hearts every time!

  21. :( You learn something new every day Cindy. That is interesting indeed!

  22. I have enjoyed your gardening science lesson! :)

  23. Cindy, you had me expecting to see a snake on top of the bush! I would have done what you did to the caterpillar, but a snake would have required someone else.

  24. I don't like those hornworms but I hate wasps even more! You are braver than me - I would have sent my husband out to "take care of it" and been adamant he not tell me any details! ;)

    I've seen an albino squirrel before - it's kind of exciting, isn't it?

  25. So happy that you put that caterpillar out of its misery!

    What a story!

  26. The garden is definitely full of lessions...some can be a bit disqusting....lol. I just found your beautfiul blog. I am going to follow. Excited to meet you and visit with you. By the way, snakes do not bother me....I have thrown five from my yard this year...I know, my husband says I am totally wierd....I just hate to kill a snake that does not pose a threat...Stop by and visit with me and maybe follow along. Blessings....great to meet other believers in Christ..

  27. I just read your "about me" page. I had to leave another comment....I pray you are blessed as you continue to share your heart for the Lord. Love finding other true believers of Christ. Blessings!


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