BUT WHAT IF THEY COME BACK?

We are at the annoying stage of the gypsy moth invasion. Sprayed and surviving, the air is full of moths. Thousands, maybe millions of them are swarming everywhere, no doubt laying clutches of eggs for next year’s even bigger event.

The oaks are trying to come back, some more successfully than others. I watch them every day, looking for signs of growth and health.

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A second year would be a real tragedy. No longer just a nightmarish inconvenience but devastation. It would be the end of thousands … acres … of hardwood trees and could involve not only oak and ornamental trees, but also spruce, maple, fruit orchards and more. It would leave ghost woods filled with the skeletons of the trees we loved. So far, no state or town agency has been willing to do anything to prevent this disaster.

We’ve done what we can. We’ve sprayed. That’s it. No one homeowner, nor any group of private individuals, can do this alone. Without help … well … kaput.

From WCVB news, Boston:


Gypsy moth caterpillars return to dine on New England trees

Last year’s dry spring to blame

Published  7:03 PM EDT Jul 03, 2016


We really need rain. And a little more help from nature.

A SECOND SPRING

After a complete defoliation by voracious gypsy caterpillars, there are signs of recovery in the woods.

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It’s hard to find an up-side to a gypsy moth infestation, but if any exists, it’s that you not only get more light without the trees blocking the sun, but you can actually see the birds. I hear them, but usually they are hidden high in the trees.

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Right now, there’s no place to hide. You can see the beginnings of a new crop of leaves. A second spring is coming. In another few weeks, most of the trees will have leaves again.

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Some places seem to be rebounding a lot faster than others. I don’t yet know what that means … if it means anything.

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And so our forest, stripped of most of its leaves, deprived of the means to manufacture nourishment, endures. Hints of a second spring give us hope that our beautiful woods will make it through the siege. Most of the oaks and maples will survive. I hope losses will be few.

DEPRIVE | THE DAILY POST

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!

TheChangingSeasons_6367

GREEN LEAVES BY THE POND

While here, at home, the trees are bare, a couple of miles away the world is normal. It’s odd the way the gypsy moth invasion has affected the area.

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We are the worst hit. South Uxbridge, Douglas, North Smithfield — we all have bare oaks and maples. The gardens look ragged and nothing is blooming. Not a day lily to be seen, nor a rose on any bush.

In trying to find a positive side to this experience, the best anyone has come up with was my son who pointed out we won’t have a lot of leaves to rake up this fall.

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Definitely will be an easy cleanup of autumn leaves but it isn’t likely to be an epic autumn, either. At least not at home. But down the road a couple of miles …

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The trees are full and green around the pond. The swans are nesting peacefully.

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It was good to find the world had not ended everywhere … just at our house!

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Some of the pictures are Garry’s, the others are mine. Both of us wished we had brought either another camera or a long lens. The swans were there, but too far off to capture with the equipment we’d brought. Still, for all that, it was good to see green and growing trees.

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Tiny buds are appearing on our trees. If the caterpillars don’t get them, we’ll have leaves again. I hope.

A BEAUTIFUL TOWN

 

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This is a small town with a long history, for an American town. First settled in 1662, incorporated in 1727, we are the middle of the Blackstone Valley. Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. We led the nation with some of the first mills and factories.

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Ours was a bustling town, industrious and forward-thinking. We had some of the finest schools, research facilities, and  hospitals. Our library was among the first free libraries in the nation. We were leaders. We had the first hospital for the mentally ill where they were cared for — as opposed to locking them in cages.

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In the early 1900s, the mills and factories moved south, following the cotton. When they moved away, they left crumbling buildings, a polluted river and a persistent unemployment problem. But it wasn’t all bad.

Crown and Eagle mill

It gave the valley’s natural beauty a chance to recover. By 1973, the Blackstone River was one of the most polluted rivers in the U.S. Today, it’s close to clean. Not completely, but substantially. There’s work still to be done, but it has come a long way. If you give nature a chance, she will come back. Sometimes, she needs a helping hand.

Farmhouse May

Farmland become forests. Parks were created and historical sites preserved. In 1986, the valley was designated as The John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor (a National Heritage Corridor — the newest U.S. National Park). It’s dedicated to the history of the early American Industrial Revolution. The corridor stretches across 400,000 acres and includes 24 cities and towns. It follows the course of the river through Worcester County, Massachusetts down to its end in Providence County, Rhode Island. Uxbridge is the middle.

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As a 21st century town, we don’t have a lot going for us. Little in the way of industry or business. No shopping centers. No night life or entertainment — not even a movie theater or coffee-house (but there are golf courses). No public transportation. Decent schools, but nothing exceptional. Not much in the way of services and if you live where we do, almost none.

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We’re too far from Boston to be a true commuter town and too built up for a resort, though we were, once. I remember driving up here from New York when I was a young woman because the leaves are especially beautiful in the autumn and you could buy a phenomenal pumpkin.

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UU Church 47

What we have is some history, a bit of classic architecture, and nature. Glorious, rich, and bountiful nature. The area teems with life from turtles and trout, to beaver and deer. You are always near a river in Uxbridge, even if you can’t see it. It meanders through the valley, streams through parks, and under old stone bridges.

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The river widens into ponds where herons, swans, geese, and ducks build nests. The trout are back. We even have a couple of designated swimming places and they are never crowded. October in the valley, in Uxbridge, can break your heart with its beauty.

West Dam

So why don’t we protect it? Why do we act like it has no value? Why does the town act as if nature is the least valuable of our assets, useful for exploitation and always ready to sell it for industrial use?

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It is our only asset. If we don’t protect it, this will be an ugly little town in the middle of nowhere. There will be no reason for anyone to want to be here.

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It does not have to be that way. There’s an attitude of  “oh well, it’s just trees.” This Gypsy Moth infestation has been devastating in this south part of the town. Other parts seem barely affected, but it’s patchy. When you drive up and down Route 122, you will go through sections of trees still in full leaf, then acres of bare oaks.

They can — and do — come back for another year of mass tree defoliation. Given the danger, taking measures to protect from a second year of infestation is cheap compared to the cost of losing the only thing we have going for us.

autumn sun Rays

Trees recover from defoliation once.

Twice in a row? You lose a lot of trees.

Thrice? You will have forests full of dead trees.

How many years would it take to recover from that? Would we recover?

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It’s time to treasure the beauty of this town and protect it. The “it’s no big deal” attitude is, not to put too fine a point on it, wrong. Short-sighted in the extreme. It is a very big deal. Our only big deal.

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THE DAILY POST | PERFECTION

NEWS FLASH! GREAT SPRAY IN THE MORNING!

He came. He sprayed. And now … we wait for millions of invading aliens to die.

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The guy from Turf Technologies says that we get the prize for the worst infestation of property he has ever seen. Anywhere. Is this an honor? Do we get a statuette?

Remember space invaders anyone? The aliens just kept coming. You kept shooting, but there were always more, and more, and more. It’s like that.

He sprayed everything — the shed, the house, the deck, the cars, the foundation. It should take an hour or so for them to start dying by the millions and then, I need my son — who is big and strong enough to manage the leaf blower — to clear the rubble away. After work.

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This isn’t going to end the siege — though every little bit helps — because they are in the trees, the shrubs, cars, deck, railings, and ground. I hope this will enable us to come and go without being covered with them. Even that little would help.

During my 5 minute conversation with Chris — me in the front door and he by his truck halfway up the driveway — I had to keep a broom in my hand as the army of the hairy and hungry tried to invade the house, falling on me, and into the doorway. It’s mind-boggling.

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I took some pictures through the screen door on the porch. Even with the reduced sharpness caused by the screen, if you look, you can see them on the branches and beams.

I get the feeling that Mother Nature is pissed off. I can understand it … but why us? We’ve been good.

Cross your fingers! Lets hope this works! ‘Cause if it doesn’t, I don’t know what more we can do.

NATURAL YET HORRID | THE DAILY POST