Give a hen a hornworm

This morning, right after we found the tomato that was finally ripe but now had a huge bite taken out of it, we saw the tell-tale signs of hornworm damage – the denuded stems, the gnawed-on leaves.

Hornworms have evolved to look very much like the plants they eat, so they’re hard to spot. Kevin and I found two, but it took the sharper eyes of my 14-year-old stepson, Eamon, to catch the third.

In the pantheon of one-horned creatures, hornworms bring up the rear in the charm department; unicorns and narwhals have ‘em beat, hands down. They’re giant succulent wormy things, and they’re a threat to the best produce we get from our garden.

Luckily, we have a hornworm solution. Seven hornworm solutions, actually. No one disposes of a hornworm better than a chicken.

10 people are having a conversation about “Give a hen a hornworm

  1. HA! You have well behaved and polite hens! There would have been a tussle in my coop had that big tasty hornworm been presented as a snack!
    Sorry for the damage they have caused!

  2. That is hilarious. I was just saying (as we were picking them off the tomatoes the other evening) that we need chickens to dispose of them. Our 10-year-old did do a good enough job with a brick, however. 😉

  3. Growing up in California, we had horn worms, and I must say they give me the willies. But here in Oregon, I’ve had tomatoes two years in a row and have yet to see horn worms. But now I know what to do with them. Guess I need to get the chickens first though…

    What came first; the chicken or the horn worm?

  4. Tracy — There was less of a frenzy than usual because we had three hornworms for seven chickens. When there’s only one, it’s a free-for-all.

    Alison — The picture of a child killing hornworms with a brick is, shall we say, evocative.

    Laurie — We have to get them off the plant ourselves, but once we present them to the chickens on a sliver platter, they’re very interested indeed.

    Paula — Of course you need chickens. And a truck.

  5. How do you only have three? I have probably picked 40 or so off of 3 tomato plants! I just collect them in a mason jar and hope they suffer.

  6. “That’s not gonna be much of a movie.”

    Boy do I love your dry sense of humor. The video might not be long on action, but when it finally comes….Boy was it satisfying! Good to know nothing is wasted and all life is appreciated in your backyard farm.

  7. NorCal — In lieu of tasting them for myself, I’m going to accept the chickens’ verdict on this one.

    Katie — 40! Gross! Find someone with chickens and you might be able to trade them for eggs.

    Brooke — You know, I almost edited that out, but I decided to leave it in on the off-chance someone would think it was funny. So thanks for being that someone.

  8. I think your horn worms are the equivalent of our lubber grasshoppers. I’ll save them in a jar and mail them to our chickens if you like. Just kidding…i can’t stand them and cut their heads off with scissors.

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