Wednesday, May 30, 2012

And Yet More Caterpillars

 Just wanted to share what we are enduring in the natural world.  They are EVERYWHERE.  I can't hang laundry outside, sit outside, walk under a tree, etc. without having to pick caterpillars off myself before I go inside.  Only to pick a couple off the counter who sneeked in when I wasn't watching.  As I write there is one on my neck.  YUCK!!!  This too will pass.  (I hope.)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Caterpillar Invasion

 I haven't been blogging much as I had to get a new computer when the old one died.  And it wasn't all that old either!  The new one was first shipped by FedEx but  they didn't like our address and shipped it back to the warehouse in New York.  We then had to have it reshipped via UPS who seems to be able to find us without problems. 

Meanwhile our trees have been inundated with one of those periodic outbreaks of tent caterpillars.  These happen in quantity every few years.  In between we see a few but not like this.
 Although we removed as many egg cases and hatched tents of caterpillars as we could reach our really old big trees and the native wild crab apples that are all over the farm are still full of them.  The tree above has been completely defoliated.  It will survive, making a new crop of leaves, but we won't get any fruit off it this year. 
 Whenever we get an outbreak like this we carefully check the caterpillars for signs of the eggs of a predatory wasp which lays them on their heads.  When the caterpillar spins a cocoon the little wasp larvae hatch out and eat the caterpillar.  That one won't turn into a moth and lay any eggs for next year.  Unfortunately I am seeing very, very few caterpillars with eggs on their heads. I think the caterpillar population has been so small the last several years that the wasp population has crashed.  I'm afraid it will take another year of mass caterpillars for it to build back up again.  Does not bode well for next year.
Meanwhile Joel is trying to cobble together a couple of old sprayers that haven't been used in years as we haven't needed them and they too seem to have crashed.  Meanwhile we take turns picking caterpillars off each others heads every time we go outside and avoid sitting down anywhere and definitely not on the grass which is full of the creepy things who are in the stage where they come down out of the trees and run around looking for something else to eat.  Isn't nature amazing? This will be over soon.