Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wasp vs. Hornworm, Turtle vs. Hornworm

This tomato hornworm is toast. Parasitic wasp larvae have fed on his insides just enough to imobilize him, yet keep him alive while they pupate in those tiny coccoons sprouting from his body.
I noticed this one last weekend and yesterday as I was plucking small tomato hornworms off the tomato plants, I found another parasitized caterpillar.

(I scout my tomatoes daily for pests)

I always leave the parasitized caterpillars in place so more wasps are produced to patrol my garden, but the other caterpillars are plucked.

One of the nice things about having a fish/turtle pond in your garden is that as you weed your garden, you can toss pesky organisms into the pond.

My turtles are omnivorous, so they are happy when I toss in some random weeds plucked from the garden, but they are even happier when something squiggly comes their way.

They are very tame since I raised them from eggs, so when a hornworm makes it's appearance on the nearby tomato plants, it provides an opportunity to hand feed the little Chelonians.

You can see that below ...

Oh, and did I mention that today is the last day of school?



nfmgirl said...

Looks like my little girl, except Eleanor is probably only about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

I assume that the digestive juices kill the parasitic wasps, so they are no threat to the turtles? Parasitic wasps are always so creepy, and yet fascinating!

Jen said...

only good use for those worms...

Floridacracker said...

I only give the unparasitzed cats to the turtle.

Tru that ... unless you have hungry chickens nearby!

kevin said...

Kelly is very happy about the last day of school too.

You need to take the worms to the creek and put a hook in them.

Bill said...

Mmmm, hornworms for dinner. Next time invite me, they are pretty good fried in batter! Just kidding of course.

Your garden/pond relationship is a nice example of practical gardening. Do you use water from the pond to moisten the garden. If so we may be able to claim symbiosis.

Thanks for the fun read.

Ava said...

I will keep that in mind if I ever see a tomato worm that looks like that. I wouldn't have known what it was. I also pick them from my plants. What a job!!

Thunder Dave said...

Nice turtle footage! I'll be down in the area in a few hours now. I'm sure we'll meet up even if it's in passing!

jojo said...

did you ever have a blog on how you made the turtle pond? i need to do that too. is there a filter and pump in there? my poor guy has been in a fish tank for years.:(

i'm glad your happy about school letting out. the rest of us? ugh. go carts wizzing down the street at 8 am this morning. :( don't kids sleep in?

amarkonmywall said...

Last day of school! Another great teaching year under your belt- GOOD BOY! I love your little scuter, hornworms, with or without parasites, not so much. And the giant (BIG! Mountain sized!) spider I walked into in my garden, not at all. But several very cool snakes here- will try to get a photo.

Hope you're enjoying your first day of summer freedom.