Melissa Nunez is an avid reader, writer and homeschooling mother of three. She lives in the Rio Grande Valley region of South Texas—a predominantly Latin@ community. Her writing is inspired by observation of the natural world, the dynamics of relationships, and the question of belonging.
The worms are in the garden again. I can tell because the pepper plants are shorter than they were yesterday. The damage is clearer from up close. Shriveled, half-chewed jalapeños. Stalks bare of all leaves.
I call my husband out to help me find them. He has better eyes for locating the pests. They are long, thick and green with dark patterning that helps them hide in the shadows of the juncture between leaf and stem. Their nubby legs cling to the underside of leaves. He finds one. Then another, and another. He removes them by snipping off the leaf they are currently devouring. Tosses them to the ground.
Our yard has also been overrun with ants. They have slowly claimed corners of the yard, clumping around play equipment before boldly striking out closer to our patio. They sense the offering immediately. They begin circling the leaves, climbing towards the chubby bodies. I lift the leaves and shake them. The ants fly, but the caterpillars hold fast.
“Why are you saving them? You should let the ants have at it. Let nature take its course.”
“I just don’t want them destroying my plants. I don’t want to see them eaten alive.”
I move them to a step stool we have yet to return to the garage while my husband checks for more. “It’s the second generation,” he says. “I told you we should have thrown that first batch into the canal. They came back and laid eggs.”
I go to investigate the tomato plant he is inspecting. I see the white ovals attached to the main stem—miniature spit wads.
We collect the still feasting worms and head towards the wild olive trees along the canal beside our neighborhood. I look up the pests again on my phone. Tomato horn worms. They prefer tomato plants but will also eat peppers and potatoes. The article confirms the generational theory.
“It says we can spray the plants with soapy water,” I tell my husband. “That will take care of the eggs before they hatch.”
He finds this funny after the work I did to save the larva from the ants.
“So you are fine with killing the innocent ones, but not the ones actually doing the damage?” He stops in front of the biggest olive tree.
“I’m not saying that. I’m trying to prevent another future problem. Before more damage is done.”
“And they are just eggs, right? You don’t have to watch them squirm.”
I pass the leaves to my husband one by one as he ensures the secure transfer of the caterpillars from severed pepper leaves to the ones attached to the tree.
“Maybe we should just scrap the whole plant.”
From the Editor:
We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.
Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?
The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.
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