The vegetable garden is home to many different creatures, insects and mammals, welcome and not. Sometimes amphibians and reptiles make an appearance, as this tiny surprise shows. I recently noticed a lot of hopping movement underfoot and bent down to take a look, thinking it was probably small crickets or grasshoppers. It turned out to be many itty-bitty toadlets, American Toads beginning their life away from the pond where they were hatched into tadpoles. At such a small size, the journey from the pond to the garden must seem quite daunting.
Another surprise guest was this sweet little Garter Snake who was sheltering under the eggplants which were covered with a row cover. The weather had been cool for a few days, so I covered the plants; when I uncovered them, there was this little guy. Garter snakes aren't aggressive; matter of fact he seemed interested in me, allowing me to take several photos and putting out his red tongue to smell me. He went wandering off, I suppose, since I haven't seen him again.
This very beautiful, humungous caterpillar is the most unwelcome of all insects in my garden. It is the dreaded Tobacco hornworm, often confused for the tomato hornworm; tobacco hornworms have a red horn, tomato hornworm's horns are black. Either one does tremendous damage on tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. If left unchecked they can eat an entire plant and leave only a skeleton of branches. This guy has to be the model for The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
It ate a huge chunk of this tomato. The gardener has to be vigilant about many garden pests, but this one is at the top of the list. It's green protective coloring makes it hard to find, but luckily it has very noticeable droppings.
I saw this richly colored Eastern newt in the lawn in front of the house, its color almost startling; this vivid orange lasts only during the juvenile phase. It was small, 2 to 3 inches long, and was not happy about being photographed. I was sorry to frighten it, but I can never resist trying to capture images of the incredible variety of life in the small world around my home.