Calvert Street ES – Praying Mantis vs. Tomato Hornworm

Hello Garden Friends, this past Friday at Calvert Street Elementary School we had an epic showdown which ended in the demise of one of the most ravenous garden pests around, the Tomato Hornworm. At around 9:00am the students uncovered the nuisance while ripping out our tomato plants and prepping the beds for sowing snap peas. Many of the children, not phased by the nefarious reputation of the caterpillar, continued to observe the pest as it was moved into an adjacent raised bed. Little did we know that our reigning garden champ was lying in wait. The Praying Mantis swooped on the opportunity and plunged his mandibles into the soft flesh of the caterpillar. A river of processed tomato leaves flows from the caterpillars eviscerated flank and is consumed by the hungry mantis. And thus, the children were witness to the magic of the food chain and made aware of the interactions between pests and predatory insects.

I could not have planned a more interesting lesson. Planting peas will have to wait until next week with that class.

Until next week, grow on!
-Jeff Mailes