Tag Archives: tomatoes

Nature 101: Sphinx Moth

White Lined Sphinx Moth image

While working out in the garden area near the pond this past week, I became distracted by these somewhat large creatures zipping around the purple flowers in the pasture.  We’ve had hummingbirds show up before and hover around our red tractor, so I thought perhaps some hummingbirds had arrived and were taking advantage of nectar from the small purple flowers growing in the pasture.  They were difficult to get close to, but after catching several glimpses of these things, they seemed a bit oddly shaped and colored even for a hummingbird.

Lucky me remembered to bring my cell phone to the pasture with me and I followed these things around until I got a picture that wasn’t just a big blur or grass.  When one of these creatures finally stopped long enough, I could see that it had a very long, thin “straw” extending from its body and was inserting it into the purple flowers to drink nectar.

I have never seen one of these in person or in a book, but I could recognize that it was something in the butterfly/moth category but not what specific kind it was.  Fortunately for me, I have a husband that not only has a lot of nature knowledge from personal interests, but a hubby that has degrees where he learned all kinds of nature-y stuff.  No sense in wasting all his knowledge.  After all, we paid a fortune for him to obtain it :)A few pushes of the buttons on my phone, and the photo zipped through the air across the miles and landed on hubby’s phone.  And once again, hubby came through with an answer via text message.  The unidentified flying object in the photo is a Sphinx Moth.

A Sphinx Moth.  Neat.  It’s really pretty.  I’m glad to know what it is.  Then came the bad news from hubby.

This nifty thing:

White Lined Sphinx Moth drinking nectar from Henbit flowers.

White Lined Sphinx Moth drinking nectar from Henbit flowers in our pasture.

Is actually one of these:

tomato hornworm image

Tomato hornworms photo courtesy of Luciano Burtini, BC, Canada

Well,  that was kind of depressing news.  That beautiful thing zipping around the pasture is going to be a pest to contend with once the garden gets put in.  Not to mention that the feel of one of those fat green worms between your fingers as you try to pull them off your tomatoes when they have a death grip on your plant is REALLY disgusting!  I’ve actually squished them in my hand trying to get them to let go of my tomato plants before.  Blech.

Ah well, I have learned something.  I know what the moth looks like.  I know what the worm looks like.  And while I find the moth a beautiful part of nature, at least I know where those grubby caterpillars come from and will work hard to protect the tomatoes from day one of planting since they have arrived in the area before I planted.

And hopefully I will remember to stuff some rubber gloves in my pockets when I go to the garden so I have something between my skin and those things when I pick them off the tomato plants and throw them to the chickens.

So if you have been wondering what the other life cycle of those pesky tomato pests look like, now you know!  And if you’re planting tomatoes, look for them.  They’ll be coming to a neighborhood near you soon. 🙂

Timesaving Tortellini

Since it’s the hottest part of the year, I’ve got my “cool food” cookbooks at the ready.  One of our old favorites for dinner during the summer is this tortellini recipe that we eat as a main dish.  It’s usually a big hit when I make it for company or take it to church potluck.  Even people who are die-hard meat & potatoes fans have told me that it’s tasty – for being vegetarian 🙂

Timesaving Tortellini

cool and tasty

1 pkg (9 oz) refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini

1 pkg (10 oz) frozen whole kernel corn

2 1/2 c quartered cherry tomatoes

1/4 c chopped fresh basil leaves

1 Tbs grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

1 1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 medium green onions, chopped (1/4 c)

2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

Salt and fresh ground pepper, if desired

Cook tortellini as directed on package except omit the salt and fat (oil), and add the frozen corn for the last 2-3 minutes of cook time; drain thoroughly.

Add remaining ingredients except salt and pepper; toss. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

From January 2000 #158 issue of Betty Crocker Healthy Family Meals, an interview with Jackie Newgent, RD

Can be eaten warm or cold – we like ours cold.  You can also use it as an “all in one” side dish.  I usually add a bit of garlic powder to it instead of the garlic cloves, and a little extra cheese.  The ingredients are versatile, you can use frozen or canned corn, fresh or dried basil, regular chopped tomatoes, dried tortellini or even other veggies – whatever you have on hand.  It tastes fabulous with home-grown tomatoes and is nice and light for those hottest days.