June 05, 2018

Article at couriernews.ca

The worms of spring

Goodness knows I try to live with nature. I go out of my way to appreciate every little creature and its place in our wonderful complex ecology.

But these caterpillars, rather than worming their way into my heart, have crawled onto my last nerve.

When I first came to Cold Lake 1990, the town was just emerging from an infestation on a scale last seen in the Book of Exodus.

Someone told me the bugs’ life cycle brings them back every seven years. That was fine with me, because I knew I would posted out before that (and here I am, 28 years later).

It turns out they don’t come back that regularly, but once they start it can take seven years for them to reach their peak.

This worm storm has been gathering for a few years, so I hope they’ve peaked. We wait all through a long winter to see green leafy trees, so it’s demoralizing to see bare branches in June. I’ve got caterpillars by the thousands in my shrubs and trees, in my flower beds, on my house, even on the poor family dog.

They will soon spin their cocoons and, by nature’s miracle, will emerge transformed into beautiful grey-brown moths. The moths only live about five days, but they don’t leave this mortal coil before laying a few billion eggs — next year’s caterpillars.

Anyway, this year’s caterpillar invasion is almost done, and in a couple of weeks we’ll be so busy happily swatting mosquitoes and horseflies, we’ll hardly remember it.