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Gardener discovers gargantuan insect devouring their plants: ‘Put a collar and a leash on it’

“I dreamt that I woke up and my entire garden was eaten and all that was left were hundreds of these thicc boys.”

The monstrous tomatillo hornworm in a Denver garden.

Photo Credit: iStock

If you enjoy gawking at giant bugs, this one’s for you. This monstrous caterpillar had Reddit buzzing last year after it was caught red-handed.

The 3-inch-plus hornworm was plump as can be, and it blended in perfectly with the green branch of the tomatillo plant on which it was found.

Photo Credit: u/mustvebeen-theroses/ Reddit
Photo Credit: u/mustvebeen-theroses/ Reddit

“Put a collar and a leash on it,” one user joked.

Another replied: “Right? Go register that beast with the town and be sure to bring proof of rabies vaccination.”

The jovial conversation came at the cost of two tomatillo plants, though the poster’s tomatoes — in the opposite corner of their Denver garden — were untouched.

Other users came with their own stories.

“I didn’t know what they were until … someone posted a picture of one on reddit,” one wrote. “I thought it was birds picking the tops off my tomato and pepper plants. I found 5 of these giant things tonight. They decimated my tomato and pepper plants in just a few days.”

Hornworms metamorphose into important pollinators as hawk or sphinx moths, but gardeners can take steps to protect their plants from the larvae.

Handpicking is the best method for ridding a garden of the caterpillars, according to the Farmers’ Almanac, though hornworms can be particularly tough to spot. Tilling soil to kill larvae and pupae, attracting insects such as wasps and ladybugs, and planting herbs such as dill or basil can also help.

Hawk moths can spread pollen more than 18 miles, per Smithsonian magazine. They don’t pollinate food crops but “are vital for the survival of many native plants.”

Still, their former iterations can be the stuff of nightmares.

Hornworm caterpillars might exceed 6 inches in length, and they can quickly defoliate plants

This gigantic one left a lasting impression on the poster.

“Okay so I actually did have nightmares about him last night!” they wrote. “I dreamt that I woke up and my entire garden was eaten and all that was left were hundreds of these thicc boys.”

Many commenters pointed out that chickens like to munch on hornworms, some touted sacrificial plants or rehoming, and others let the good times roll.

“He deserves his own 1950s monster movie,” one user quipped.

Another offered a money-making venture: “Charge rent.”

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