Friday, September 25, 2009

Bagworm Bonanza

Live and let live. That's what I always say when it comes to "wildlife"...AKA critters that enter our home through unprotected crevices. Spiders get cupped and escorted out. As for flies, they're whisked out the door. The only fair game, really, are the mosquitoes. They're out to suck our blood...They carry an element of danger...So we swat away.

As for outside, I love the ecosystem we've set up. The squirrels, birds, and even the occasion rogue rodent who comes to partake in the leftover seed, are welcome for the most part.

As of late, however, a new creature has invaded our bushes. Truly amazing organisms, these bagworms, as they're named, are caterpillars who rearrange small branches and twigs on our shrubs to make cozy, hanging hideouts. For the longest time, I thought our evergreens were producing some kinds of funky pine cone, as their shape and the way they hang strongly resemble them.

Z told me, over and over, that he thought they were some type of cocoon. "Doubting Mom" was not convinced...until Z witnessed the head of one protruding and, unfortunately, eating away.

So here's the dilemma...The teacher who refuses to do the "termite experiment" in bio class because it involves ripping the head off and smushing its insides to view microscopic, mutualistic protozoans under a microscope, is now faced with finding a way to rid our garden of a creature that will eat each bush until it kills it, dead. There are tons of them, hanging peacefully (but acting ravenously when we're not looking). A gorgeous example of camouflage, but nonetheless a parasite.

Should we let nature decide who survives? Do we get out the jumbo can of Raid? Can we clip each one off the bushes and transfer all of them to, say, the dump, where they can eat to their hearts' content? Tough call here...

Hey Steve, you never really liked those hedges anyway, did you?



At 9:30 PM, Blogger Leslie said...

Death to the parasites! I refuse to do the termite lab cuz bugs are gross. I know, I make a horrible biologist. :) The only bug Chris is allowed to keep alive is spiders cuz they eat other bugs. You know those cavern crickets? Death death death!

At 11:42 PM, Blogger The Balla Family said...

LOL! Somehow this is really tough for me...even the "hoppies" as we call those crickets get a free ride at the Balla household. They're kind of like pets to us. One time we had friends over and one of the little boys accidentally stepped on one in Z's room. I can't tell you how upset Z was...probably giving them cute names like "hoppy-bugs" helped that connection.

Just the thought of ripping those caterpillars from the comfort of their hedge-home is causing me grief. I wish "Second Chance" had an arthropod division! I didn't know that I'd have a part to play in "survival of the fittest!"


At 8:27 AM, Blogger Tam said...

Des - I am sitting here with tears in my eyes reading your and Steve's blogs - what a wonderful life you have had! I will email you and perhaps we can talk on the phone - 15 years is a really long time to catch up on via internet!

So glad to reconnect with you! Tam


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