The EVIL Tomato Hornworm.
Covered in eyeballs.
I kid you not.
I found it right away. Took a deep breath, shook off my heebie-jeebies and plucked the pest off the vine. What a treat for the girls! I took it straight to the coop, eager to watch my little hens chow down on this vile demon.
The ladies were thrilled to see me.
I bring them treats often, in order to perpetuate my delusion that they're thrilled to see me --- I usually bring something like a melon rind or a tomato, which is really what they're thrilled to see.
The girls charged greedily toward my offering, then screeched to a halt. Spunky little Daisy snatched up the hornworm and ran away with it -- she took it to the far end of the yard, put it down, took a good look at it, then picked it up and brought it right back to me.
Other than that, everybody just stood and stared.
I mean, they didn't even take a nibble. I thought they'd be fighting over it - like they would if it were a worm or a slug or a beetle. What was the difference here? The size? The row of eyeballs?
Offended by their lack of enthusiasm for this awesome gift, I left the girls staring at the hornworm and went back inside to post my photo of the ghastly creature on Facebook where I felt sure it would be appreciated for its enormity and beautiful freakiness. Facebook Friends immediately responded, agreeing that it is a terrible menace in the garden.
Another friend, however, explained that it is the larva of a Hummingbird Moth,
which happens to be one of my absolute favorite bugs.
Suddenly, I loved that caterpillar.
I snapped my laptop shut and sprinted back out to the coop, hoping I wasn't too late for a valiant rescue. The ladies were dust bathing in the shade at the far end of the run, and I found the caterpillar right where I'd left it, all its eyeballs still intact and glaring at me.
I picked it up, dusted it off and returned it to the vegetable garden.
This morning I went out to check up on the caterpillar and found it joyfully defoliating another treasured tomato plant, none the worse for its adventure with the girls.
Then I took a melon rind treat to my adoring little hens.