I found this worm with rice all over it on my tomatoes this morning. It’s a fascinating lesson in nature – a tomato worm with a parasite: wasp eggs.
The white rice structures are the pupating eggs of the Cotesia congregatus wasp, of the Braconidae wasp family. These wasps are deadly to a wide variety of garden pests like hornworms, caterpillars, beetles, squash bugs, and stink bugs. They generally will not sting a human unless handled.
The female wasp lays eggs just under the skin of the tomato worm. As the eggs hatch, they eat the worm alive.
In general you should kill any tomato hornworms you see. But, when they are covered with eggs like this guy, let them live, as they will provide food for very beneficial wasps!
This is what happens when you sit in one place too long in North Carolina – the turkey buzzards come! These large birds clean up anything that has started to rot, and we appreciate them for keeping the landscape clear of dead animals. This trio, a male, female, and chick, were chewing on a raccoon carcass by the pond. Magnificent while soaring the thermal updrafts in flight, they are really pretty clumsy (and a bit ugly) and bad-tempered when on the ground. At least one pair live in our woods. You can hear them crashing through the trees when they decide to next for the night.
Not being originally from the South, we are unfamiliar with the local delicacy of fresh figs. The bush in this picture was planted three years ago, and has grown to about 8 feet tall. The green bulbs are un-ripe figs. When they turn a reddish color and hang down they are ready to pick. Apparently they have a short window between inedible green and overripe; bruise easily; don’t last long once picked; and are a favorite of the local fauna. That said, we’re hoping to get enough this first picking to make a batch of fig jam!