THE SNOW IS GONE – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Tuesday: SNOW

The snow is gone.

We didn’t get a lot of it this year. It didn’t show up at all until March and it only lasted a week and a bit, but it rained and stormed almost continuously from February through this month. So our water table is doing fine.

Now that the Gypsy moth caterpillars have been spotted locally, we really need the rain — so of course, we have lovely, dry spring weather. The rain brings forth a little caterpillar killer bug that drops those caterpillars dead from the trees. But we need rain and a lot of it.

It’s as if the weather is rebelling. Whatever it is we want, we can’t have it. It’s not a lack of weather. It’s a lot of weather — at all the wrong times.

It’s funny to think about snow now. All I have on my mind are the hospital tests and getting finished with them. I think I’m about to (in late May and June) finally complete … and how doth the garden grow.

March blizzard

And how many squirrels are hanging on the bird feeder. Perhaps, as Stuart Templeton said yesterday, “Isn’t it great  to see some birds on your squirrel feeders?”

Unsurprisingly, the feeders were filled last night and were nearly empty this morning. I was going to let the feeder run empty and try to convince the squirrels to do their own hunting, but if the caterpillars take over, there won’t BE any food to eat. Those nasty bugs strip the woods and everything goes hungry.

The Gypsy moths are an evil omen in an evil year. Last time, I survived by getting everything sprayed, but I don’t have the money this year — and I don’t even know what (if any) company is set up to to the work. No one was expecting them to come back so soon. They usually lay low for decades before making a return appearance.

If it gets ugly (and Garry is horribly allergic to these nasty critters), I’m going to hide inside and refuse to leave. Since our squirrels are always starving, can they be convinced to eat these guy? Except almost none of the birds will eat the big hairy caterpillars, but many will eat the egg masses they leave behind. We do have most of those birds here. On our deck.

Bring on the birdseed!

And, for what it’s worth, squirrels eat them too, even the caterpillars. So I guess we’re going to keep those feeders full!


More information from Mass Audubon Society and Pests.org:

Some native birds, such as cuckoos, downy woodpeckers, gray catbirds, and common grackles, will eat gypsy moth caterpillars but, unfortunately, not in large enough quantities to have an effect during an outbreak. White-footed mice, and occasionally gray squirrels, prey on gypsy moth larvae and pupae.

Pests.Org

These little-known buggers can lay waste to entire forests and crops as they munch their way through the leaves and plants. Up until last year, the Gypsy Moth Caterpillar was not considered a big deal. Granted, they are still a problem when they infest your farm, but they had taken a backseat to other common pests. That is until some states (the northeast and especially Massachusetts) saw the worst Gypsy Moth infestation in more than 30 years.


NOTE: In 2016 and 2017 — here in the Blackstone Valley — virtually every hardwood and fruit-bearing tree were defoliated by the caterpillars), farmers started paying attention. 


Some birds typically eat Gypsy Moths. Birds such as the Bluejay, catbird, blackbird (cowbirds ARE blackbirds), crows (we have them, though they don’t favor our woods) and such find these insects delicious.

These ARE blackbirds!
One of our many cowbirds.

Encourage these birds to visit your property to feed on these moths by not chasing them away when they come.


We definitely encourage them!

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

12 thoughts on “THE SNOW IS GONE – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Are they sparrows on your bird feeder? this year we only got sparrows. Since we have no lawn and the raised beds, the other birds no longer arrive. There are no longer worms to find.

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    1. Have you tried a real feeder? You’d probably find appropriate seeds in your local grocery. Each area, the birds have individual tastes, so you’d want seeds that attract YOUR local birds. And if you have humming birds, there are special hummingbird feeders. You’d never lack for photographs again! Just make sure you put them where they are very easy to reach. I have mine hanging quite low so Garry and I — who are short — can get to them.

      There are ones that attach right on your your windows so you can see the birds closeup. It certainly would entertain Tabby!

      You probably have many more birds than you think, but you don’t see them because you don’t invite them over. Bread isn’t really bird food except maybe for crows, but black-oil sunflower seeds? Never found a bird who doesn’t like them. I never saw most of these birds until we put up the feeders. I didn’t think we even HAD squirrels because I never saw them! Now I can’t get rid of them.

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  2. Good grief, I had no idea a caterpillar could be such a nuisance. I guess it’s that time of year when they’re everywhere. We went for a walk in a local woods yesterday that’s renowned for butterflies and got covered in caterpillars, but not like that. These were just small and quite cute. We saved as many as we could. But I didn’t realise you could be allergic to them – that’s news. I hope the birds clear your garden of them soon.

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    1. No. these are highly destructive caterpillars and all the damage they do IS as caterpillars. As moths, the females can’t even fly. All they do is lay eggs for the next round of tree killers. And they really murder the trees. You can actually HEAR them chewing the leaves until the entire forest and every hardwood tree is naked. It’s horrible.

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  3. Your generosity to the birds and squirrels may be repaid by them eating your caterpillars. I hope so but if these things are going to become regular visits to your part of the state the authorities may have to do something although I’m guessing they won’t have money either. I’ve been thinking of getting a feeder if I’m still around here this winter. I can get wild bird seed mix although I think that a lot of it is more suitable for parrots than the robins, finches, and wrens I’d like to encourage. I’ve started to see them on flying visits and I’d like to photograph them. I am concerned that if a lot of larger birds were dropping in the little ones would not get a look in at the food. I like the rosellas but the cocky’s and galahs are much bigger.

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