Then I noticed a tomato branch. A tomato branch with no leaves! No rabbit was going to eat tomato leaves five feet off the ground.
Searching the plants, I found the culprit.
A very large hornworm!!
Normally I consider myself a peaceful and non-violent person. I don't eat animals and try to not harm animals. Gardening, however, has turned me into a much more violent person. I now roam around my garden with a kill jar filled with soapy water and happily dunk Japanese beetles, squash bugs, and lately Mexican bean beetle larva. I can't squish bugs yet.. I still find that too gross.
I put the hornworm in a jar and debated it's fate. It was pretty in a Very Hungry Caterpillar kind of way. I finally decided to take it to the front yard and put it out for the birds to hopefully eat. A couple of hours later, it was gone.. perhaps crawling it's way back to my garden or digesting in the stomach of a very happy bird. I'm hoping for the latter.
The next day I found three more hornworms in the garden. My moral dilemma has passed and I found a bigger jar to use for killing!