I am in a life or death (theirs, not mine) competition with tomato horn-worms. Found one on the peppers on Saturday and 3 more today. 1 on a pepper plant and 2 on tomatoes. It was IMMENSELY satisfying to toss them to the chickens and watch them dismember him in a frenzy. A big juicy caterpillar like that is a real prize to the hens. The first one there grabs it and runs, and a gang chases her. The caterpillar is all gone in a minute or so as they pick it apart. If this does not sound like sweet revenge to you, you have never been to battle with these guys.
I know there are many more out there. My rivals for tomatoes are well-equipped for battle. Evolution has made them look so much like a curled tomato leaf that they are nearly impossible to spot. The best way is to look for the damage (almost always defoliation) and then search in that area. Frass, the fancy word for bug poop, is another tell-tale sign. These guys are such voracious eaters that they form a lot of frass. They are eating, and therefore, pooping machines.
There is an organic control for them (and all caterpillars) called BT. I may resort to that, but we will see.
The lesson I mulled over in the garden today was rivalry. The horn-worms and I are rivals and the chickens and the horn-worms are rivals. Unfortunately, if I let the chickens in the garden, they would be much bigger rivals for the garden crops–eating nearly everything. However, it sure is nice to turn those disgustingly plump caterpillars into a nice lunch for a hen. Gardens are a matter of life and death. Who eats who is the name of the game.