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I am the Pol Pot of Eastern Tent Caterpillars - It seemed like a good idea at the time... [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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I am the Pol Pot of Eastern Tent Caterpillars [May. 6th, 2008|12:38 pm]
It's an obsession.

Oh, I'm still hunting down box elder bugs and ripping off their heads, or smushing their abdomens, crushing their larvae, smearing their egg cases.

And its aphid season and the every other day, smushing of those annoying, yet piquantly sweet sapsuckers (I didn't taste them on purpose. I just sort of forgot where my hands had been...) takes up some of my time.

(I know, they're caterpillars. I just grew up calling them tentworms. And if I can't use gay or retarted or crippled anymore, I'm okay with that, but I ain't dropping "tentworm" until the Worm Defamation Council serves me with an injunction.)

And while we're fussing about proper names. A good portion of my neighbors are calling them gypsy moth caterpillars. Okay, they're not. Primer for y'all -- although the only neighbor who will see this, regineaubergines, knows damn well what they are...

Fuzzy, blue and red dots: gypsy moth caterpillar

Smooth, white line down the middle, if you can bring yourself to look closely at them, they're patterned like a fine oriental carpet: my nemesis, the Eastern Tent Caterpillar.

Yes, that is my hanging precariously from tree limbs, holding up my Scripto Extendalighter, setting their tent nests on fire, crisping the "worms" inside like...well, in the interests of civility, I will not mention the painfully obvious cliche.

And, I look like a crazy person whose Ritalin needs to be dialed down a notch when I walk the dogs because I will do anything to stomp one where it lies. Actually I don't stomp -- because then you miss the satisfactory "pop" noise you get if you pressurize them just right. I'll be walking along and suddenly wham, I get all Karate Kid, whiring and whipping my leg up into a tree trunk just to get a couple more.

The Captain gave some thought to abstaining from walking with us during TW massacre season, but, brave man that he is, has deigned to accompany us, me leaping in front of and over dogs to get...just...one....more. At first I thought that perhaps I'd won him over to the dark side, as he shows an aptitude for crushing any in his path...but I suspect it's mostly an attempt to minimalize my spastic lunging and lurching.

I know, you're shocked. Is this the same person who will pick an earthworm up out of the street and carry him/her safely to the dirt/grass on the other side? Who's traumatized by long periods of rain because I just can't stand to walk over and by all of those drowning worms?

Hey, no earthworm ever ate an entire favorite tree of mine, practically overnight.

[User Picture]From: skivee
2008-05-06 05:23 pm (UTC)
Death to them all
Have you thought about using BT on the squishy bastards?
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[User Picture]From: skivee
2008-05-06 05:25 pm (UTC)
Bacillus thuringiensis
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[User Picture]From: terribleturnip
2008-05-06 07:21 pm (UTC)
The clock is ticking on Bt resistance. I don't want to contribute to the eventual uselessness of it, but using it when I can simply climb up on a step stool and set them afire. I'll save it for folks who have to protect entire orchards or places where you just can't climb up there and get at the little bastards...but thanks for the hint.
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[User Picture]From: lionsden
2008-05-06 05:45 pm (UTC)
Hurray! Another front in the war on tent worms!! After having two trees fairly decimated by the #@!*% worms last year (though the trees eventually recovered), we decided to go to our local garden center and see what they recommended. They sent us home with a spray (the name is escaping me just now) that is used with a garden hose. So, we tried it out – a few days later, we noticed that the nests are still there, but the worms were no longer moving. Last year the tent worms marched along our back fence in such hordes it looked like the top of the fence was moving. The only thing I've seen in our yard this year is the occasional gypsy moth caterpillar. If you want the name of this spray, just let me know, it is safe around animals as soon as it dries.
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[User Picture]From: terribleturnip
2008-05-06 07:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks, but I've worked really, really hard to develop a huge arsenal of beneficial and predatory insects that I don't want to risk. Flame, popping, smushing...I like to look in the face of the enemy as I extinguish its little life.

Speaking of little lives, did you get Lily yet?
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[User Picture]From: lionsden
2008-05-06 08:32 pm (UTC)
Completely understandable - the tents they'd made were far too high in the tree to reach with even our ridiculously tall ladder, so, we were left with little choice.

Yep, we brought her home on Saturday and she seems to be adjusting really well. She's a very happy little girl. I'm hoping to post some pictures later this week.
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[User Picture]From: lowlandscot
2008-05-06 09:43 pm (UTC)
Will ichneumon wasps parasitize tentworms? I've had good luck getting the wasps to go where I want them by planting aster family flowers in the target zone. For some reason, we have very few eastern tent caterpillars on our property this or any other yeat; we do have a problem with bagworms getting in the cedar trees, and the ichneumons come in very handy there.
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[User Picture]From: fountaingirl
2008-05-06 06:31 pm (UTC)
Don't tell toxins you can't use gay and retarded any more. I tried that, and it resulted in the combo phrase "that's gay and retarded!" to indicate double scorn/mocking/etc. You say anything to him about it and he redoubles how much he says it, just to mess with people.
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[User Picture]From: terribleturnip
2008-05-06 07:29 pm (UTC)
Tell him last night, upon realizing that we had missed celebrating Beltane, Holocaust remembrance day AND Cinco de Mayo....we looked through our rolodex for a Jew who we could paint blue with woad, put a sombero on, chase through the woods, then tie him to a tree and set him on fire.

But we were feeling tired and all of our Jewish friends are just too damn nimble.

Plus, there will be plenty of time for that later when we're in HELL for making jokes like that.

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[User Picture]From: regineaubergine
2008-05-06 07:35 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: ferlonda
2008-05-06 07:39 pm (UTC)
Been there, done that, and me, I'm all about Life is Sacred, Divine, all Beings have sentience, still... DIE DIE DIE you EVIL BEASTS!!!!!!!!!!!

Whew. Sorry. The damn things just about killed my favorite apple tree when I was a kid and I took it VERY personally.
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