My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!

My Outside Space Invaders!


Last year, I was less than successful in my gardening efforts.  Sure, I harvested some tomatoes, green beans, and spinach, but it was nothing to write home about.  I didn’t even have enough to can one quart jar of tomatoes.  While some of it was my technique, much of it was due to unwelcome invaders in my garden.  Namely rabbits and caterpillars.  The rabbits were pretty tenacious.  I put up some plastic “netting” to keep them out of the backyard, and they ate through it.  Yes, ATE through it.  See?


Rabbits!  They are crafty little creatures, aren't they?

Rabbits! They are crafty little creatures, aren’t they?


But the most pesky invaders were caterpillars.  Hornworm tomato caterpillars.  When I discovered these on my tomato plants (they really loved my heirloom plant), I just about had a heart attack!


Hornworm Caterpillar

Hornworm Caterpillar


They were HUGE!  About 3 inches long!  And they just ate and ate and ATE!


Here one is, munching away.

Here one is, munching away.


They stripped the branches on my tomato plants in no time flat.


I'd just examined the plants 2 days prior, and there were no caterpillars to be seen.  Look at what they did in less than 2 days!

I’d just examined the plants 2 days prior, and there were no caterpillars to be seen. Look at what they did in less than 2 days!


We found several!  And they kept coming back.  Again and again and again!


I took a picture after we found 3!  I think we found 5-6 total that day.

I took a picture after we found 3! I think we found 5-6 total that day.


My good friend was over when I found them, and we had no clue what they were, so we decided to examine them.  I promise no caterpillars were harmed during this examination.


First, we took pictures to show how HUGE it was.  I'd never seen a caterpillar that large before.

First, we took pictures to show how HUGE it was. I’d never seen a caterpillar that large before.

Then we took a closer look.

Then we took a closer look.

There's it's mouth eating the leaf.  It's totally oblivious to us.

There’s it’s mouth eating the leaf. It’s totally oblivious to us.

We pulled it off the leaf, so we could see it's mouth.  Look at those teeth!  And those feet.  This creature is designed for one thing: eating tomato plants!

We pulled it off the leaf, so we could see it’s mouth. Look at those teeth! And those feet. This creature is designed for one thing: eating tomato plants!


Finally, we decided to take a video of the caterpillar.  Please keep in mind that we did not harm it in any way (although I read online that the best way to get rid of them is to step on them).  Even though the screen capture makes it appear we are poking the caterpillar with the fork, we did not.  I promise!  We merely examined them using silverware, because we didn’t want to actually touch them.  I hope it gives you a good laugh.  (The second video is a bit blurry for the first half.)  For those with sensitive ears, we do use bathroom words in the video.  Be warned!


Have you ever found invaders in your garden? 

Did you rid yourself of them or did you learn to live with them?


Author: Laurie Nguyen

I am a happily married, stay at home mom with four sons, ages 24, 22, 18, and 14. I'm not a professional blogger, and I'm certainly not a foodie or a chef. But I like food, so I think I'm qualified to write about my own life experience with food. Want to be a little more prepared for the unexpected? Check out my Food Storage Blog, Have a question about Food Storage? Email me:

24 thoughts on “My Outside Space Invaders!

  1. They be fat enough to carve into steak filets and to quick panfry and toss them into a salad for a crunch with your tomatos. Good lean protein.


    • I read that online that you can eat these caterpillars. I don’t know if I could do that, unless there was no other source of protein. 🙂 But more power to those who can.


      • Hahahah! I agree. Though they would have to be cooked for me. If I got that strapped for protein, there would be no cooking either. That means eating them raw…. I would have to be really hungry.

        Really hungry


  2. Oh my those are nasty looking. I have never seen anything quite like that. I get all sorts of creepy critters in my garden but that caterpillar is terrible looking and sounds really destructive..


  3. tomato hornworms are YUCK!!!…plant borage, basil, marigolds with your tomatoes and they won’t come around. They are the humming bird moth later, but they destroy tomatoes. Borage works great!


    • I almost picked up some basil today. I’ll have to do that next time. Thanks for the tips!


      • I usually just seed the area around the tomato plant. You can start the boarage inside, but if you plant it around you will never see those ugly guys-lol. It is called companion planting and it is a natural way to control those pests. If you type in “companion planting” it gives you ideas how to use other flowers /herbs to battle bugs in your garden/attract beneficials.They are beautiful moths later, but not near tomatoes when they are crawling-lol


  4. plus you can uses the borage flowers in salads they taste a bit like cucumbers:-)


  5. I’m a horrible gardener! I’m trying again this year with two little herb plants, but I can’t imagine how I’d react if I saw those giant green critters in my plants.


  6. Those things are horrid, and so well camoflaged! I hate the creepy way they gnash their teeth at you when you touch them! My chickens sure love them though 🙂


  7. I like the picture of him on his back eating the leaf, you can see his little eyes… gives this little creature so much character.


  8. Seriously, how do you plan to get rid of them? Thank you for following my blog.


    • I’ve read the prevention is best. I made sure that there were no eggs on the bottoms of my tomato plant leaves. There are a couple of other things I read last year (which I cannot recall at the moment) which were supposed to help. I just hope they don’t show up this year. If they do, I’ll go back to the Internet and try those other things.


  9. At least they don’t spit tobacco juice at you. I used to plant marigolds around my garden, every two or three rows to keep the buggy things out. They don’t like the smell of the marigolds, so that might help you this year. I was a farm wife and had about an acre of garden, so it was nice to have the flowers ever so often among the tomatoes and squash and all the other veggies. The only critter I couldn’t seem to keep out were the cows that got out the night before I was going to pick the corn. Hate beef to this day.


  10. This is fascinating for me as I have tomato plants in my balcony I hope hope that doesn’t put mine at risk too!


  11. Ewwwww bugs
    Ew ew ew…*shudders*


  12. We only bought this house mid-August, so this is my first year for planting. I have noticed the abundance of squirrels and bunnies here, which I did not have in my previous garden. My plan is to grow my tomatoes in a sort of greenhouse closet…the rest I plan to use raised beds with screen or chicken wire atop it. But the pole beans…uh…I dunno. And oh how I wish I’d read this yesterday, before I ordered my seeds! Marigolds, blast! Shoulda ordered marigold seeds!


  13. We have lots of those, too. I should out loud EVERY time I spot one. I think once they arrive, the best way to get rid of them (without chemicals) is to pull them off the plant and dispose of them. Some of the older people I know would get paid a penny per caterpillar when they were children. To be honest, though, trying to pull them off a plant gives me the creeps- they hold on so tightly! If they are so numerous that we have to collect them, I cut the leaf/stem that they are holding on to off the plant.


  14. The still picture for the video looks as if the fork is piercing the caterpillar. I must confess that I hesitated to watch this, even though I knew you probably wouldn’t show a video of killing and/or eating a live caterpillar. 🙂 I’m glad I watched this! What a relief!


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