May 242014

“Step up, lad,” cried (Long John)Silver. “I won’t eat you. Hand it over, lubber. I know the rules, I do; I won’t hurt a depytation.”

Thus encouraged, the buccaneer stepped forth more briskly, and having passed something to Silver, from hand to hand, slipped yet more smartly back again to his companions.

The sea-cook looked at what had been given him.

“The black spot! I thought so,” he observed.”

The black spot from Treasure Island is an image that remains from my youth. It was a wonderful literary device that pronounced a final verdict on the individual who received it.

TentLarvaWparEggLogoAs I write this, life sort of imitates art as tent caterpillars all over the island are receiving the “white spot.” It is also a final verdict and judgement for these fuzzy creatures who have redefined the word “ubiquitous.” At our place, they are everywhere. Because they are into the raspberries and blueberries we have to spend a significant amount of time hand picking them. They ride into the house on our clothing. Linda found one in her hair late one night.

But they have been given the white spot which you will, if you look closely, find appearing on the heads of more and more caterpillars. This is the egg of a parasitic fly. The larva hatches and crawls inside the caterpillar and begins to eat the caterpillar from the inside out; a gory death which should, hopefully, put the clampers on the tent caterpillar for the next few years.

I think the egg sac must give the caterpillar a terrible headache. Here’s a video I made of a caterpillar trying to shake off and rub off an egg sac (at least that appears to be what it’s doing).

IMG_7318 (Click link to view)

Enjoy the white spot of doom.


  One Response to “The White Spot”

  1. Right on! When we last visited the island I saw them EVERYWHERE and sympathized for you all there. We are headed up again in a couple of weeks (we stay at the property next to Jerry) and I’ll be watching for the success of the white spot. What a cool way to rid them–great job!

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