THE CHANGING SEASONS – JUNE 2016: THE SUMMER SOLSTICE

The Changing Seasons: June 2016

THE SUMMER SOLSTICE


The weather has been strange everywhere. A mild winter, followed by an early spring. The leaves were at least a week ahead of schedule. Out in the middle of the country, non-stop rain created massive flooding, while the west and southwest have had temperatures so high the forests turned to tinder. At least half a dozen states are burning as I write this. With temperatures over 100 degrees farenheit (40+ centigrade), there’s no relief in sight yet.

Home. The bare trees are maple and oak. The ash and other trees were left (mostly) in peace.

Home. The bare trees are maple and oak. The ash, catalpa and other trees were left (mostly) in peace.

Here, in southern New England, our mild winter was followed by plentiful, but not excessive rains and it looked like it would be a lovely summer with full rivers and ponds where the birds could nest and feed.

Then … the Gypsy Moth caterpillars arrived. A week into June, and suddenly, the house, the driveway, and every hardwood tree in the forest was covered by aggressive, destructive, invasive hairy eating machines. Millions and millions of caterpillars. Everywhere. You could hear them dropping as you drove, like hail on the car roof.

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In short order, they ate every leaf off every oak tree and for dessert, consumed the maples, apple, and every other fruit tree that was not protected. The ground was writhing with caterpillars to which many people are allergic, making leaving the house a nightmare. It was like living in a bad horror movie.

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Trapped in the house, we finally got someone to spray the house and surrounding areas. Within a couple of hours, they began dying … filling the roof, driveway, walks, and ground with the corpses of caterpillars.

And then, they began to vanish. As mysteriously as they arrived, they disappeared. Starvation? They had eaten everything they normally eat. Caterpillar plague? There is such a thing and generally, on heavy infestation years like this one, it breaks out and they die by the millions.

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The trees are trying to come back. There are spring-like buds on many of the trees. Not every tree, but most of them. The oaks are the slow to leaf in the spring and even slower to re-leaf after defoliation.

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The gardens had no flowers at all until today when suddenly, roses appeared. Not where they were last year or any of the previous years. They showed up in a completely new part of the garden, leaving dead bushes in their wake. The day lilies — only two blooming — are covered with hundred of buds. Strange vision, with the naked oak trees.

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Summer is here. There will, I hope, be new leaves on the maples and some of the oaks. But today, you can see winter bare trees against a blue sky on the summer solstice.

NOTE: All the pictures on this page — except for Garry’s caterpillars — were taken yesterday afternoon. Also note how the trees are full in some places, but bare in others.


What’s this «Changing Seasons» blogging challenge?

«The Changing Seasons 2016» is a blogging challenge with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month. Anyone with a blog can join this challenge and it’ll run throughout 2016. It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t join the first month(s), late-comers are welcomed. These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

These are the rules for Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

These are the rules for Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

This is the second year of participating and it is turning out to be much more interesting than I imagined possible. For followers of climate change, this shows rather more than anyone anticipated. Even if you have not participated previously, it’s not too late to join!

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Categories: Changing Seasons, Gallery, Home, Nature, Photography, Seasons

Tags: , , , , , , ,

28 replies

  1. I had no idea you could be allergic to caterpillars!

    Like

    • Almost everyone is allergic to these guys. They are ever so slightly poisonous. Not lethally, but enough to raise welts and make your dog sick. Why the dogs insist on eating them, I don’t know. I’m sure they don’t taste very good. Yechh.

      Like

  2. OMG! the caterpillar story is really horrific. that doesn’t happen every year, I hope?

    Like

  3. Gosh, what a stunning and informative post about a part of the world I know nothing about and a problem I haven’t heard of before. Thank you for sharing. It is good to know about what’s going on in our troubled environments across the globe. Hopefully posts like this will further awareness in many and act as a catalyst for change.

    Like

    • Gypsy moths were originally European, but were brought here and escaped into this part of the world by accident. They kill millions of acres of oaks and other hardwood trees every year. They started in Massachusetts in 1867 and have been found as far away as British Columbia, Oregon and everywhere in-between. Invasive non-native species are a problem everywhere, from Australia to China. It’s why they are so careful at airports and ports for people bringing in live plants or animals. With so much travel abroad, the transport of invasive pest species of animals and plants has become inevitable.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We are having a very mild winter so far – just a few frosts but warm days. Today it is warm now – early morning. So strange. It is weird looking at bare trees in summer.

    Like

  5. That was terrible what those little critters did. I do hope the worst is over.
    Leslie

    Like

  6. Here in Las Vegas we are already complaining about the record heat. As I was reading your caterpillar story, Marilyn, I was wondering if you’d rather have millions of little caterpillars or one large Godzilla sized caterpillar. Now that would be a story! 🙂 I loved seeing the area where you live. Ours is nothing like that. Maybe one day I’ll take a shot of our house and surrounding area to post. Well, gotta go work on my changing seasons post.

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  7. The return of the trees thank goodness, and even flowers are appearing again. We have had so much rain, that the size oft the leaves in our garden are double the usual size. today is really a wonderful day. The sun is shining, temperatures are warm and I sit outside in a real summer top and short trousers. Mr. Swiss has closed all the blinds and windows so it must be summer and soon we will be complaining about the hot weather and waiting for rain again.

    Like

    • I’m just hoping that the missing caterpillars are not all changing in to moths. The idea is too much to bear. I’ve had enough of nature at her most horrible. And today, for the first time in a while, it appear it’s going to rain. I guess we need it.

      Like

  8. Is it possible that the spray had the desired effect? Is the poison like ant bait — the affected caterpillars take it home to their families and they all die? Hoping, as I am sure you are, for a complete recovery for the rest of the summer!

    Like

    • It would certainly help where it was used, but this is a much larger area … so something else happened. The good thing is that these infestations are frequently self limiting. If they were not, we probably wouldn’t have any hardwood trees left. I’m sure eventually someone will tell us what happened. I’m just glad it did.

      Like

  9. Aha.. What I said was that I read your caterpillar story with horror, then was pleased to see how nature rebounded. I wonder if they are in a cocoon stage and if they’ll emerge as moths later?

    Like

  10. I’ve tried 3 times to post a comment to your Changing Seasons post but it won’t allow me to.. I ended up posting it on your reply to one of my blogs.. Testing to see if it will work here now.

    Liked by 1 person

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  1. The Changing Seasons: June 2016 – Cardinal Guzman

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