Hornworm Arrival!


Way back in June I posted pictures of my lush summer garden in Where Are the Tomato Hornworms When You Need ‘Em? In the post I lamented that even with an over-abundance of garden finery, there were no tomato or tobacco hornworms to be found. Most often the hornworms of my gardens of the past were of the tobacco classification (Manduca sexta), being primarily distinguished from the tomato variety (Manduca quinquemaculata) by their red-orange horn, verses a blue-black one. The caterpillar in Big Bug I is thus technically a tobacco hornworm.

Big Bug I detail
Big Bug I detail
Pickle with his red-orange horn

Even with many hornworm-compatible Solanaceae plants including tomato, eggplant, various peppers,  and even Nicotiana rustica,  neither the larvae of Manduca quinquemaculata or Manduca sexta were to be found in my summer garden. However, upon a generous donation from a fellow gardener and hornworm-lover, I have recently received a delectable pair named Pepper and Pickle, who have taken residence in my fall garden.


I will be making a few framed prints of hornworm photography in the near future (see my other photography here), in addition to depicting their design in a painting in my Motif series.

If all goes according to genetic and divine plan, Pickle and Pepper will soon be someone like this:

A hornworm moth from many years ago
A hornworm moth I watched hatch, many years ago

Where Are the Tomato Hornworms When You Need ’em?

THIS SPRING, I built a wooden 8′ x 16′ garden planter, and filled it with home-made compost and decent planting soil. That’s a pretty big canvas for a garden, but not even my life-long plant-growing experience could have prepared me for the monster jungle that has ensued! I am left to inquire: where are the tomato hornworms when you need ’em?

I illustrate the reasoning behind this question with the following photographs:

Isn’t there room for all of us to feast in Paradise?

eggplant flower eggplant squash flower squash

A living cornucopia! Fit for a……….hornworm? As I impatiently await their arrival, at least I have this painting to be fondly reminded of them:

Big Bug I (detail) / 2014 / oil on canvas / 84" x 24"
Big Bug I (detail) / 2014 / oil on canvas / 84″ x 24″

It’s a monster of its own invention