Friday, June 24, 2011

The Irony of Life

I appreciate the irony of life. It is what makes the world turn. Without it, everything would be completely and totally boring.

But, in this case, irony has me beating my head against the wall and kicking myself. To fully understand the irony, let's backtrack to last year and my wonderful adoration of all the hummingbirds visiting my feeders. I had three different types of hummingbirds visiting my feeders on a regular basis. I identified two of the varieties but the third I couldn't identify. I took pictures and compared them to website photos and databases. I spent all winter researching hummingbirds and looking for this incredibly small species. This hummingbird was about half the size of the black-chinned and ruby-throated varieties that I had already identified. And there were no hummingbirds of that size in our region. The only one even remotely matching the description resides in Montana and never leaves the mountains. I found it impossible to believe that a mountainous species would survive the 100 degree plus temperatures of Texas.

With the advent of spring, I no longer had time to research the hummingbird, so waited for it to make its appearance this year for a better look. For the record, I have not yet seen this tiny species this year.

Fast forward to today, I had not been to my garden in several days. Due to all that has been going on, my garden was in great need of attention. After dinner, Snugglebug and I ventured out to the garden so I could see what all needed to be done after he went to bed. I immediately noticed my tall, lush tomato plants were mere stems. This disturbed me, but being a life-long farm-girl, I knew the work of a hornworm when I saw it. It didn't take me but a moment to find the fat culprit lounging on a naked stem. Then, I found a second and a third hornworm.

After putting Snugglebug to bed, I went straight out to my garden (baby monitor in hand) to search for any more tomato eating fiends. What began with three worms became ten then twenty. At twenty-five hornworms, I called my friend, Liz, and said, "You're not going to believe this!" She did and hung up so she could go check her tomato plants. The final count was 28 hornworms on three tomato plants! I would have taken a picture but the sight of them turned my stomach, and I would hate to run off my readers with such a sight.

After plucking the worms and depositing them in a large (very large) pickle jar, I turned on the sprinklers and came inside to do some research.

I first wanted to know what type of moth the hornworm became so I could make sure to spray it with Raid the next time I saw one. I also wanted to know what the pupae looked like and what ate it so I could prevent the hornworm ever reaching my tomato plants.

I learned that the hornworm becomes a moth that when in flight looks like a hummingbird. It eats nectar just like a hummingbird, feeds on flowers just like a hummingbird, has the same long tongue, and from a distance looks like an extremely small hummingbird. The photos and the description on all the websites matched the unknown hummingbird from last year. I sat in complete astonishment. Last year, I had been feeding and marveling at a moth, not a bird. Last year, I had been feeding the moth that would lay the eggs and become a hideous larvae known as the hornworm that was now eating my tomato plants.

The irony is too much to bear. And while I typically admire irony and say, "My hat's off to you for pulling that one off," today, I say, "cussword, cussword, cussword."


Jennifer said...

I found you randomly today. Even though this post is from months ago, someone needs to comment to tell you how great it is. Let that be me. Good luck with your nutrition/depression quest.

Cynda Western Felini said...

Thanks, Jennifer! Encouragement is always accepted and appreciated!