Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Caterpillar food, continued
And here are a few of more than 30 individuals found in the caterpillar "nest". What I did was to cut the frond from the palm and then open it up completely on the sink of the porch. In little time the caterpillars started moving about, but they didn't leave the frond. After getting some pictures, I left the frond at the edge of the woods next to the reception center. Later I checked on our friends to discover that some were busy creating a new web enclosure. I thought to myself that I have become more ecological minded that I was in the past. I remember 2-3 years ago another palm had been invaded by the same type of caterpillars and I had reacted very irrationally. My immediate reaction was to kill the critters, which I did by spraying them with a heavy dose of kerosene and water. After all, they were eating one of my favorite palms. What I didn't expect was that I would kill the palm too. A few days later the palm tree gave sign of taking its last breath. The worse part was that it was my only dendê palm (Elaeis guineensis) and it was doing exceptionally well. The caterpillars had eaten most of the leaves, but that's not the end of the world for palms. They jump back up by growing new fronds. By doing something stupid, I killed off a whole bunch of future butterflies and also one of my favorite palms.