22. HeLa and Hornworms

I am writing 300-1000 words per day and this is day 22. I am not too inspired to write today because I would really rather be reading a book I just started called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (by Rebecca Skloot). It is the story of the woman behind HeLa cells (cells that have been used extensively in medical research).  The cells were obtained for research during a biopsy of a tumor she had. Though she consented to the procedure, she had no knowledge (and never consented) for the use of her cells in research and her family has never really benefitted from the VAST discoveries the cells have enabled. There are many recent articles about the controversy surrounding HeLa cells. Here are a few published just last month if you are interested:

Henrietta Lacks’ Family Finally gets say in Genetic Destiny. Can we control our own? (CNN Health)

A New Chapter in the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (National Geographic)

I’m 100 pages in, it’s a good story and I’m eager to get back to it! I also have half and eye on 9/11 television specials and it is just so sad to remember that horrific day.

I finally took a closer look at the tomato plants today (beyond just picking the ripe tomatoes) and noticed a bunch of tomato hornworms.

Tomato Hornworm

Tomato Hornworm

These colorful creatures are very destructive and really go to town eating the foliage and fruits on the plants. They are pretty big and I would find it way too disgusting to squish or kill them. So I piled them up in my “corner office” on my “desk” and then I was going to take a picture of them all together. I had them artfully arranged on the flat surface each of them munching on their own clipped tomato branches. There were about 15 of them. It was going to be a very funny and interesting picture. Alas, it was a picture I didn’t take. I got sidetracked and when I came back half of them had fallen off the desk and crawled away and only a couple were left.

For some reason they remind me of My Little Pony:





Cephala-pony, a close relative to the hornworm HAhahaha HAHAHAH

So anyways, I did pick off all the ones I saw. Even managed to spot this little guy:

Unicorn Pony. Well the unicorn horn is coming out of the wrong end…

Unicorn Pony. Well, the unicorn horn is coming out of the wrong end…

I didn’t kill them because like I said that would just be gross and even though, yes, they are destructive, they are just really cool-looking pests. So I just tossed them in the woods. Better a bird to eat them than me to squish them.

9 thoughts on “22. HeLa and Hornworms

  1. Julianna Holden Mohler

    Just last night, we saw our first hornworm ever on our tomato plants. But the one we saw was absolutely covered in parasitic wasp larvae that were eating it while it was trying to eat our leaves. Now THAT was also a HUGE ewwwwwwwwwwwww I watched a Youtube video today that showed a guy using sharp scissors and just cutting the lil suckers in half. Then bunches of green slimy fluid flowing out of them. EWWWWW

    1. Spy Garden Post author

      That is a major EWWWwww!!! I just can’t imagine doing that: NOT going to happen! I would let them eat my tomato plants before I would do that hahahahaha. The parasitic wasp larvae sound cool though you should try and get a picture!

  2. Pingback: 24. Clouds in My Coffee | Spy Garden

  3. Eliza Waters

    Did you know they pupate into Sphinx moths? They look like mini-humminbirds as they buzz from flower to flower and are important pollinators. You could find some Solanum (Nightshade) – a wild relative of tomatoes, it vines and sprawls like tomato, has little purple flowers in summer and has clusters of red fruit about now – to put the larva on, so that they can fulfill their calling!

      1. Spy Garden Post author

        I have a hard time squishing things. If I am in pest-mode and wearing disposable vinyl gloves I can do it but even then I just find it so gross. The exception is squash bugs/stink bugs which I hate and I kill gloves or no gloves!

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