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Watching a Caterpillar

June 25, 2017

I didn’t watch it all the time.  I only watched it from time to time, while I was reading.  They were forest tent caterpillars.  I saw them climbing up the wall of my neighbor’s garage, out the window.  They seemed to move randomly over the wall, but in an upwards direction.  Often they would stop climbing and fall off the wall.  There weren’t very many of them.

A forest tent caterpillar is a long worm with many feet.  It’s dark in colour, with a stripe along each side, and spots along the back.  I watched one climbing up one side of the window itself.  It seemed to wander for a while, as if not knowing which way to go.  Then, it stopped.  When I saw it next, it was making repetitive movements of its front half.  Was it stuck?  No, it was making a tent.  It was building it of silk, from the inside.  When it finished the tent, it started building a cocoon, also from the inside.  I could still see the worm inside the cocoon, because of the light streaming in the window.  It changed shape, becoming a shorter creature with pointed ends.  Most of the time it was stationary inside the cocoon, but occasionally it would twitch and squirm violently.

That was enough watching.  I went all around the outside of my house with a broom, brushing away the tents and cocoons.  Most of them were under the eve at the top of the walls.  I brushed away the one on my window too.  I’d seen enough.  Fortunately, there weren’t many of them.  The trees still had all of their leaves.  I didn’t see any tents up in the trees.  At a park, a few years ago, I saw trees and shrubs that were entirely stripped of leaves, and left covered with webs.  It was like a horror movie.  There’s nothing like that this year.


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