Yesterday, I realized we can’t spend the summer locked in our house with doors and windows sealed.

The invasion, now an official worst in living memory gypsy moth attack in the Uxbridge-Whitinsville area, has made it onto all the local network affiliates. This is likely to force the town to figure out how to prevent this happening again — but worse — next summer.

It’s too late to save the summer. The oak trees are bare. So are all the birch. The caterpillars are finishing off the maple and pines. They’ve killing my fuchsia and the garden is dead before anything had a chance to bloom. The damage is done. The pines are gone for good; they won’t come back. The caterpillars are way out of control and marching north. We may have been the first, but we won’t be the last.

The little crawling eating machines are not finished. They will keep chomping on anything they can digest until they become moths and stop eating– at least a month from now. Then, instead, they will begin laying millions of eggs to ensure the next generation.

That’s the life of gypsy moths. Eat a forest. Dump excrement everywhere. Morph into ugly brown and white moths (the white ones — females — can’t fly). Lay millions of eggs. Repeat until there are no trees left standing.

Late yesterday, UPS delivered my marmalade and jellies. Neither Garry nor I had the stomach to retrieve the package. This morning, I geared up. Long dress. Clogs with socks. Long sleeved over-shirt. I couldn’t find a hat, so I just did perpetual motion. It was lovely out there. I haven’t been outside for a couple of days. I almost forgot what a delightful time of year this is.

I spotted the package on the sidewalk in front of the wellhead, by the front gate.

Which is when, looking down, realized the ground is writhing with caterpillars. The package was covered with them. A small package, yet so many hairy brown crawlers. I knocked them off the package, grabbed it, and ran for the door, stomping them back from the entrance, hearing them crunching under my feet. OH YUCK.

Coming in, I opened the marmalade and the ginger jelly, put in an English muffin to toast and took a deep breath. I made it. I was out maybe 3 minutes or less? Glad I have a pacemaker. It kept my heart from stopping.

I settled down with coffee and a muffin and two (TWO!!) kinds of sweets. Very good. Delicious. Hot coffee, sweet muffin, and I’m alive, alive. The caterpillars didn’t get me!

The phone range. It was Lance of Turf Technologies Inc. calling, as promised. Quick conversation and he said “This is now, officially the worse infestation ever. Good for you. People like you squawking is probably why the news picked it up.”

I know, because — I’m married to a news guy. I may not know much, but I know if you make noise and pique their interest, the news people will come. Maybe the powers-that-be — the ones around here making like ostriches — will take notice. As the days roll on with no relief, I become increasingly less hopeful.

One of the worst side effects of this mess is that I’m horribly depressed. I sit here, watching summer slip away, realizing there’s nothing more I can do. There’s a package outside somewhere. It’s a movie I ordered from Amazon, but neither of us is willing to look for it, not if it means going outside.

caterpillars 2016

A neighbor posted this picture. It could just as easily be my house. That’s what it looks like. I’m not taking any pictures because I can’t bring myself to go out. I haven’t been out of the house for nearly a week. I suppose that’s contributing to the depression.

No matter how horrible it is for us, I can’t imagine how bad it is for the farmers. This is apple orchard country. We’ve got farms. Trees, corn, dairy cattle. I can’t imagine how they are coping with this and what a economic catastrophe this will be for them.

This is the worst summer ever.

Categories: Nature, New England, UPDATE!

Tags: , , , , , , ,

40 replies

  1. Okay, Marilyn, that last photo is the ugliest and scariest thing I’ve ever seen. Oh my gosh what an infestation you guys are dealing with, and I can’t even imagine dealing with it.


    • It’s too horrible for words. They get into the house, probably via the dogs. I’ve gotten pretty pragmatic about squishing them in a paper towel and putting them in the trash. But I haven’t been able to convince myself to go outside. I’ll have to go, tomorrow. Doctor appointment. I never imagined a time when simply going out of the house would be such an awful challenge.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It sounds horrible! We had tent caterpillars for a few years, but quickly discovered that spraying was next to useless. The caterpillar poop was, however, excellent fertilizer…


    • There is, sadly, nothing good about this. However bad it is for us, the farmers are losing a whole year’s income. The orchards … what a catastrophe for all the apple orchards and this is prime apple country — usually. It’s an economic disaster on top of the horror show.


  3. Still haven’t seen any in Auburn, yet! Hope and pray they don’t make it. I remember that happening here in Auburn years ago. Everything was stripped bear and those nasty buggers were hundreds deep and all over everything. I really don’t wish to repeat that any time soon. If I see them I’m grabbing tons of tin foil. Yuck!


  4. We’ve got Tent Caterpillars everywhere and other bugs devouring leaves on all of our Snowballs and Maple Trees too. Glad you’ve got some help on the way… Dan’s putting on up a new roof and won’t have time to spray at all. Heaven knows our parcel of paradise is looking more like hell these days. Hope all goes well at your place. xo


    • I hope they get to us tomorrow. I don’t know how much good it will do. We are in the midst of a full scale natural disaster. They have finished eating the oak trees and have moved on to the pines and the maples. The pines won’t recover. And they are killing all my flowers. All of them. Even the fuchsia and the day lilies. It’s a nightmare.


  5. Have you ever read the Stephen King story “The Mist?” That’s what hearing about this infestation from your point of view reminds me of. The characters in that story were trapped in a grocery store surrounded by untold thousands of strange alien creatures. Someone needs to just set off the biggest bug bomb ever made right in the middle of that mess…


    • People are beginning to mumble about blow torches. I think we are going to form an angry mob and do something stupid, dangerous, and cinematically satisfying! It rained and somehow, I had it in my head that they’d be washed away.

      They’re still here. And we have to go grocery shopping. Or maybe I’ll make Garry do it. I’m pretty much a big clucking chicken.


  6. Every so often people surprise you. I hope this all ends for you soon!


    • He’s not promising a miracle, just his best shot. They can only spray 20 ft. up and the trees are more like 100 feet — or more. They’re tall, those oaks. Even spraying the house and the shed and the yard will make it less horrible to go out. For a while. This will be over — for this year, anyhow — in about a month. Then will come the actual moths. Not one of our better summers, I fear.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The pictures that Garry took blew me away. I’m not insect phobic but that was far too many fuzzy multi-legged creatures crawling around EVERYWHERE. Looked like a weird episode of either the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits! Hope the Tech chap helps soon. 😮


  8. I’m so glad you are getting some help. Yes there are still good people out there, Marilyn.


  9. Three cheers to Lance from Turf Technologies!


  10. Yay – good news on the caterpillar front and your jam arrived! Good thing the delivery person didn’t suffer from caterpillarphobia.


  11. Oh lordy. Hope that turf guy is able to help you, and hopefully you’ll find a way to keep the dogs away from those caterpillars. Eating them can’t be good.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Nasty buggers!! And, now looks like one or more of the dogs may be eating them and throwing up.
    It wasn’t pretty when I was up early this morning.


    • As you said a bit ago, “this is no longer funny” and it’s true. However we can’t quite stop the humor altogether. I’ve been trying to figure out how to rent a helicopter, fly in and hover above your house while you guys (including the furries) grab the rope ladder and climb up to the machine to be whisked away to safety.., somewhere? This is just too icky for words.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And now that we are officially ground zero for the invasion — I mean why US? — at least I know we aren’t just having a fit of imagination. The Turf Tech guy says this is the worst he’s ever seen, even back in the 80s. Well. That’s a distinction, right? If I can get through this, I am a SURVIVOR! But I wouldn’t refuse that helicopter rescue!!


      • I can just see Eastwood, Van Cleef and Wallach staring down the buggers in those ECU shots, music blaring and then a hail of gunfire to blast the buggers away.
        Dust clears.
        Buggers are still alive.
        Roll end credits with music full with crawl: “For A Few Buggers More”

        Liked by 1 person


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