Eliminating Gypsy Moths
Earlier in the summer Suz and I had naively noticed cute little caterpillars wiggling around on our patio. Not wanting to squash their little guts all over the patio furniture, I would catch them and put them up on the branches of our crab apple tree.
A couple of weeks passed and suddenly, one day, I noticed the bark on our crab-apple tree was crawling, but I wasn't smoking anything. The tree was still brown, but also fuzzy. The caterpillars had taken over.
My dad phoned one of his friends who owns one of the largest insect-spraying companies in North America. I forget his name. But the news Mr. Dizzler had was not good. In fact, it was the worst news possible.
The caterpillars were Gypsy Moths, and it was too late in the season to spray them. Our beautiful old tree was on the verge of being wiped out. I was furious. I hate to kill living things and found myself conflicted.
My choices were murdering thousands of Gypsy Moths, or allowing a beautiful 60-year old crab apple tree to perish. I decided the tree was more valuable than the lives of the Gypsy Moths and brainstormed an ingenious way to destroy them.
It was too late in the season for poisons to work, plus they're too harsh to the other living things in our yard. My solution was so simple, and fun to boot.
I torched 'em.
The caterpillars were surprisingly resistant to the heat from the hand-held propane torch. But once I got a few inches from their bristling backs, a sparkling light show erupted on each branch. It was eerily beautiful.