Tuesday, May 08, 2007


This year I'm taking a nonchalant attitude toward grasshoppers and caterpillars eating my plants. In the past I've done everything possible to keep them away from my young palms. The best ecological deterrent I found was that of a solution of water with rope tobacco, the kind the the country folks use to roll their very strong cigarettes. I may mix up another batch of this poison yet but so far damage from the insects has been minimal. The attached image is of a caterpillar I photographed last week. It was doing a very through job of eating one of my small potted palms when I discovered it. When I came back with my camera two minutes later, it had disappeared. I looked and looked for the future butterfly but it wasn't to be found. Later I came back to find it chomping away at a frond. Mind you, this wasn't a small caterpillar. It must have been at least 4 inches long. What really fascinated me was the head of the larva. It reminded me of a a video I had seen on a television program some days before, a report on harvesting trees which were at the bottom of a lake. The lumber company used a remote control unit with a chainsaw attached to the end of a boom-like devise. The controller of the unit could move the chainsaw in any direction, at any angle to quickly cut the trees. Likewise, this caterpillar could move his head around in any position without having to move the bulk of its long heavy body. I could see the palm leaves disappearing before my eyes.

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