This ugly little grub is a stalk borer. It is a little worse for the wear as I had jabbed it with a stick several times by the time I took a picture. The circle on the bottom right is where the stem of a calendula plant used to come out of the ground with beautiful orange flowers at its top before the stalk borer killed it, eating it from the inside out. Blurry but sorta visible at the top right is an ant who will call in a bunch of buddies and carry the carcass of the stalk borer away.
Why am I sharing such ugliness with you? Because after being angry at our most recent garden pests, I’ve finally got some perspective.
Bugs eat. That’s what they do. So do deer. So do raccoons and birds and squirrels and rabbits. If I want to picture my garden as a war zone, I will have plenty of enemies. And I can spend my days battling them back from the plants I want all to myself. And with all the tools available to me, I could probably win.
But I don’t want to be at war. I want my garden to be peaceful to me. I want the work I do in it to help me feel connected to all the many things nature is doing around me, not at odds with them. I want it to teach me about the way things are intricately connected, fitting together in life and death, with everything serving many purposes for the many other pieces surrounding it.
So I won’t start thinking of my garden as a battlefield. And part of that means I have to not think of things like stalk borers as enemies. And if they are going to take out some of my tomato plants, I had better plant enough that the survivers can still provide me with abundance. And if a pest gets bad enough to take out everything, then clearly it is a symptom of some balance lacking somewhere in my garden or the surrounding yard that needs tending to.
So that stalk borer? It is just one of the many things that lives and eats and dies in the garden that I tend to. And in a few weeks it will give up on boring stalks and turn itself into a moth. Actually, that particular one won’t, it will be eaten by ants, but all the others that I am no longer warring with, they will.