Attack of the cater-monsters

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A week and a half ago I called the guys who trim our trees and had a leisurely discussion about the upcoming caterpillar season. Last year we had a few more caterpillars than we would have liked, they gave the kids rashes, and we thought we’d try prevention this year. We decided to spray with a biocide (friendly to pets, bees, and organic gardens) sometime this week, after we got back from Spring break and the caterpillars started to hatch.

    Saturday night we pulled into the driveway post-vacation and walked into what appeared to be a horror movie set. There were are caterpillars everywhere–covering the walls of the house like chips in chocolate chip ice cream; hanging by cater-threads from the trees and across doorways. On the sidewalks, in the cat’s food. On every plant in our garden. If you stand quietly, you can hear them munching and munching.

       We fought our way into the house and picked off caterpillars from kids and luggage, discovering that they squirt a nasty green goop if you accidentally squish them.

    Yesterday my husband spent the day fighting caterpillars.  He’d hose them off the house, but before he could stomp them into the dirt, they’d scurry back up the walls. He managed to clear a path to the front door and keep it clear for a few hours, a shortlived victory. The caterpillars have won. Going out the back door is a challenge. And forget wearing the garden clogs that I keep on the back stoop; they’re caterpillar condos now.

    Today I called the tree guys and begged them to hurry over. "Really, you don’t have to wait for them to emerge; they’ve emerged!" "We know, they said, we’re getting a hundred calls a day. We’ll put you on the list and call you the day before we come." "No, you don’t understand, I need you to come now! They’re building cocoons; they’re moving into the shingles." "We’ll try to get you in as soon as possible."

    Meanwhile, the kids are itching rashes where caterpillars landed on bare skin, the blackberry bushes are stripped, and I think I hear munching in my sleep. Aahhh, spring in Silicon Valley.

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