Re: Caterpillars

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In appreciation of Kirie9s thought about caterpillars, and agreeing with her
message, here9s an observation.

The caterpillar is so ephemeral -- with us such a short time --surely we can
figure out how to cope through his short presence here without mucking up
several other systems.  One spring a long time ago (like 1956 or later)
Interstate-5 was pretty new between Exit 130 and 160, and the conifers you
see now along the route had not yet replaced the thick stands of alders on
both sides of the highway.  The drive from Tacoma to Seattle was like
driving through a war zone -- the alder corridor was totally stripped of
leaves.  Tent caterpillars dripped from the bare trees onto everything
beneath them in Dash Point State Park and other formerly lovely alder woods.
Surely a disaster?   Not --   soon the caterpillars were transmogrified9
into something else, the alders made lovely new leaves and life went on as

I9m feeling just a little superstitious to mention it -- but I have not
found one tent of the tent caterpillars in my almost-acre garden this
spring.  (Now, probably tomorrow morning my apple trees will be festooned
with them!)  I haven9t had an infestation since the spring I discovered the
little white dots on the heads of so many of them in my quaking aspens.  Ah,
those wasps.

And last spring I had bazillions of tiny white moths in my thickets of
salal.  I let kids stir them up along the sneak paths for the fun of it, but
did nothing to reduce the mini-clouds of these apparently harmless little
This year their population has crashed.  Is something even smaller preying
on them?

Helen Engle, SW Pierce County WA
Willing to share our space freely with insects,
except for Rhagoletis pomenella in the orchard.

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