tomato/tobacco hornworms

I got home from work yesterday to find an infestation of tomato hornworms eating our tomato plants.

Apparently, these nasty little buggers are one of the only things around here that will eat a tomato plant. Lucky us, they found our rooftop garden. I pulled 4 of these damn things off our plants last night, and now we have to be extra vigilant every dawn and dusk to see if we can spot any more.

Honestly, I watched one eat a leaf the size of a silver dollar in about 20 seconds. It was both awe-inspiring and infuriating.

I suppose it was kind of neat to see how they reacted once I started to pull them off: as soon as they were disturbed, they stopped eating and get VERY rigid. Also, as soon as I disturbed ONE of them, they ALL went into defense mode. Maybe some kind of chemical signal to the rest of the family? One other intersting characteristic: after they stopped moving, they scrunched their faces up and then their faces turned brown. It looked JUST like a stump or scab where a twig would have been broken off of the plant. A highly evolved defense mechansim, camouflage is.

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