Do you remember last summer? From a previous post:
For those of you who know me, you are aware that there is very little found in nature that grosses me out. Scat, roadkill, snakes, spiders…I love it all! I tolerate the ticks and marvel at the adaptations of biting and stinging insects. I have a confession to make, though. Gypsy moth caterpillars are completely disgusting.
I blogged about gypsy moths last year. If you haven’t read that blog, the background on how these non-native, invasive, bristly bastards is quite interesting. My sentiments are tenfold this year. They are awful! Where they are present (it’s spotty) the infestation is much worse, the oaks are stripped naked and they are now devouring the white pines. They’re also doing a job on the shrub layer.
The Norcross property in the northern part of Holland has been hit particularly hard. These pests have turned the clock back in the oak canopy. The bright blue sky accented with cumulus is the backdrop for the skeletonized trees. The lighting in the woods is reminiscent of early May.
The silken threads are covering my truck, frass is coming down in such quantity you must wear a hat. You can hear them eating, the droppings sounding like a gentle spring rain. Squashed carcasses can be seen in the road, however, just as many live caterpillars are crossing to get to the last green leaf. Standing in the woods, they start climbing on me to reach for their food source.
Gypsy moth caterpillars are the grossest thing ever! In a few weeks they will become moths and hopefully, nature will strike back and keep them in check next year.
This week (March 4 at 1:30pm ) UMass professor Dr. Joe Elkinton will be discussing Gypsy Moth & Winter Moth. Interested? Please RSVP or email firstname.lastname@example.org