May 022014

Transition Lummi Island has been quiet of late mainly because I get bored with myself and really don’t feel there is much to add to the discussion.

However, I will summarize my four hundred blog posts to date: it’s probable that something bad will happen sometime and because of that we ought to do a few things to prepare for whatever that something might be. These preps might include but aren’t limited to: learning how to grow food, stockpiling stuff, catching water, learning other new skills besides gardening, etc. etc.

We’ve personally done a bunch of things that put us in good shape to last out a natural disaster assuming our home isn’t crushed or destroyed. And, we might be in decent condition to ride out a longer crisis such as an economic calamity and perhaps even be of help to others. And, the community has made strides as well with an active disaster preparedness program, community gardens, community orchards and other team building activities.
I used to spend hours trying to keep up with what’s really going on.  But in a kind of microcosmic epiphany I’ve decided that with what time I have left I might as well just relax and enjoy myself and focus on what very little I can control.
Take caterpillars, for example. Wiggly little bastards. They are everywhere. But, given time and a few good tools I have been able to keep them under control. I told one friend that I’d slain approximately 50,000 of the creatures and he replied that he can kill 50,000 in a  half hour. It’s all relative, I guess. They say karma is a bitch and the gurus of the East will allege that we will pay for taking their fuzzy lives. But one must draw the line somewhere and I have drawn it around the tent caterpillar. This year they are like the sign of the apocalypse. Yet. the natural history of the Western Tent Caterpillar says that they will eat amongst us for two months only then metamorphose into a rather ugly moth, lay eggs on our favorite trees and start the cycle all over again. This cycle gets broken by a certain kind of wasp which lays its eggs on the caterpillar causing it distress, a headache perhaps, and breaks the cycle of having so many caterpillars.
One can spend a lot of time chasing caterpillars. First, going after the egg sacs, then after the caterpillars themselves. The more egg sacs you get early on the easier it is.
But they are hard to see and if your trees are big you will miss most of them. Once they start to hatch you see patches of caterpillars that are easy to squish with your fingers. Still you will miss them and later on as they start to spin their tents they are easy to spot. There is something aesthetically not pleasing about a caterpillar tent. At this point it seems best to cut them off and roast them on the ground unless you can reach the tent with your flame thrower.
This war will continue through May and June but come July peanut sized cocoons will appear. After ten days or so a fairly ugly moth will appear. As one writer so aptly put it, “We don’t even get a butterfly out of this deal.”
I can marvel at its design and actual beauty when seen in closeup.
For some reason little kids like them.
Next horde of invaders to deal with—Arion ater—the black garden slug).

  One Response to “Caterpillar Apocalypse”

  1. Always enjoy your post. I can relate to the not having much to add to the discussion which is exactly why I stopped blogging. Also decided to use my time more wisely to control what I can and not using it to convince others that they need to prepare better. However I do like to here what you have to say so if you ever want a discussion just mail me a topic. Would be happy to oblige.

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