I have become a caterpillar killer. In fact, I just came in from my morning killing spree. My victims, tent caterpillars. What I once thought were kinda cute harmless little crawlers have become invaders from hell. Oh yeah. I AM NOT A FAN. The afternoon a few started falling from the sky landing on my children, who then began screaming, turning our tranquil backyard picnic into a panicked natural disaster zone, I began to launch my counter attack.
Yes, I looked up what the are. Western Tent Caterpillars, common for this area in spring. An article in a local town paper the Mukilteo Beacon requests we do not panic. And “The public is asked to tolerate these insects because they are part of the natural ecological process for our area”. Ok, great, I’m sorry but when caterpillars start falling from the sky all bets are off. So, I also looked up how to get rid of these “natural ecological processes” and there are a few ways. Drowning and burning being the most effective. Horrific I know, but once you’ve crossed that line…its all over.
I have crossed that line. My first experience went something like this. I timidly cut the nests out of my cherry trees. I carefully and somewhat disgustedly put a plastic bag over the nest and then cut the branch. I then stuffed this bag into a larger plastic garbage bag. Yuuuuuck….ugh, watching them wriggling and squirming in the nest made my skin crawl. I proceeded to do this 11 more times. I’m telling you it is a MASS invasion. I then tied my two giant garbage bags and set then on the deck, just not quite ready for any drowning or burning. It was only a matter of time though until I, the creature loving non animal/insect killer would take that first step…over THAT line.
I forgot about those bags for a few days until the morning I went out on the back deck and into a ground swarm of caterpillars. They had all hatched inside the bags and the bags being not completely sealed shut they had crawled out EVERYWHERE! The BBQ, the table, the chairs, my planters. I wish I had taken a picture but I was in such a state of shock I could do nothing except react. I began to stomp wildly, swiping them off of everything and smashing them. Doing an insanely wild dance. My daughters stood in the doorway watching me, the grimace of horror on my face as I killed every creepy crawler in my sight. After I was done I looked up to their sweet faces and thought, CRAP. Their only words were, “Wow, that’s a lot of those. We like most bugs but we don’t need that many do we?” No, girls. WE DO NOT!
I then looked at the bags. The caterpillars were all over them and I shuddered to think about what was also inside. There was no way I was opening them. I looked around for my next killing option. My eyes fell on our garden wagon. Ah, a perfect drowning pool. I madly pulled the hose over and filled that up with water, frantically grabbing the bags and tossing them in and quickly putting a few of my garden pavers on top. I spent the next heart pounding minutes standing there like the serial killer I had become poking the ones trying to crawl out down into the water and HOLDING them there. I felt bad, but not…enough…to stop.
When it seemed to be over I went back inside. Washed my hands and shook it off. More like shook my whole body, to try to alleviate the creepy crawling feeling I had, making sure there weren’t any hanging onto me! Then I went on with my day. When you’ve committed to being a killer there is no use for any feelings of regret. Thus began my morning ritual of checking my drowning pool for any escapees, smashing any that had made it out and poking the ones on the sides of the pool back in. There is no escaping my wrath. They are in my sights now and I am relentless. I poked holes in the bags in the pool and filled those with water, I pushed those bags under until no more air bubbles popped up at the surface, I added bricks and stones to hold them completely under. There would be no survivors. I know. I was WELL over the line.
It doesn’t end there. Killers perfect their crafts and drowning was just too much effort and took too much time. I needed a new method. And an accomplice. My husband. When we went into our side yard and saw the invasion of our neighbors giant Oak tree that hangs over our yard we set up our ‘kill room’ Dexter style…well, no plastic…we all have our own ways. My husband drug our fire pit into a prime location. He got his limb trimmer and his torch. We were ready. We built a fire. As he cut the nests out, branches and all, I caught them in a bucket and then quickly dumped then into the fire. It was fast, furious and I’m hoping painless…I know, I know…AND I DON’T CARE. Think of them landing on your head, neck, being caught in your hair….yeah. Remember, THEY started it. We clipped and burned thousands. With no remorse. It could be a really bad reality TV show. We reached all we could, getting out the 8 foot ladder with my 6 foot husband and the 12 foot trimmer. Everything we could reach.
Oh, don’t worry there are still more at the top of the tree (and in many trees in our neighborhood). They will continue their 10 week pillage of the leaves on their way to becoming the moths they are destined to be. Some will be killed by their natural predators…and the rest, those that end up in my reach will be annihilated, drowned, burned, smashed…any and all ways that I can enforce my vendetta against them. Me, now, a committed caterpillar mass murderer.