Take a ride on the caterpillar train!

IMG_7025IMG_7026IMG_7027IMG_7029I returned home from grocery shopping today, and noticed what looked to be a long string or rope on our patio. I wondered how I’d missed it upon leaving, or whether the wind had blown it onto our property.

Upon closer inspection, I discovered it was moving on its own. A long skinny snake perhaps? Closer still. What the– it was a long line of caterpillars! They were moving very slowly. I’m not sure the leader knew where he was going; there’s not much to eat where they were headed. He did seem obsessed with our wall, so I named him Donald.

After shooting some pictures, I looked it up on the internet: the caterpillars appear to be Pine Processionary Caterpillars. They are poisonous with stingy hairs that cause skin irritation. They are also one of the most social caterpillars around (The Pine Processionary raves are legendary in the insect world)… or perhaps they just like the smell of each other’s butts. They live off living pine trees, eating vast amounts of pine needles and defoliating whole trees.

Which is all fine and good, but defoliate some trees in another lifetime bubs. I was originally going to set them free, but once I learned how destructive they are, they all departed this world as one big smush. Donald was the first to go. Sorry guys, this is what happens when you have a bad leader.

This site can’t do video, but there’s a video on Instagram and Facebook of the entire procession here.

So far, in the ten months we’ve been in this house, we haven’t had to mess with very many unwelcome creatures.

There’s the occasional mouse in the pool, and in the heat of summer we had our share of yellow jackets and hornets. As summer began to wane, the flies came out in force. One of my daily duties was to go outside and rack up the kills. That’s Mister Fly Killer to you.

Of course if an occasional spider is unlucky enough to wander into our home, Carolyn’s “spidar” tracks them down almost immediately, whereupon she calls upon the Big Artillery (aka, me, the B.A.), who turns them into a 2D version of their former selves via the bottom of a shoe, the side of a magazine, or if they look appetizing, a spatula.

(Some of them do get a reprieve by being thrown outside if Carolyn isn’t looking.)

So while we’re certainly not pest-free, we’re not all that bothered by too many critters. Thankfully, the ones that might be especially bothersome by arming themselves with stinging hairs also oblige us by trudging across the landscape in an easy-to-spot procession. Maybe Donald should rethink that military parade thing, huh?

Anyway, not on my watch, you multi-footed vermin! Not on my watch!

IMG_7030
Here they are enjoying a group hug, facilitated by a broom, just before they were sent to caterpillar heaven.

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