That wasn’t a tomato stem I was looking at, because the stem was moving. It was an enormous caterpillar, actively snacking on the new tomato leaves. And on closer inspection, an entire branch had been stripped bare.
Tomato hornworms (named for the horn on their backside) are a common tomato pest. I feel like I’ve completed a tomato gardener’s rite of passage by spotting and dispensing with a large (we’re talking at least 4 inches, here) hornworm. The worst part was the chirping sound the hornworm made when it was disturbed.
I’ll be checking my plants more closely, on the look-out for any more creepy-crawlies. Emphasis on creepy.