I was watching a small yellow bird perching in the Granny Smith apple tree this morning, watching it flit over the branches, peck at buds, and wondering what sort of bird it was, when FDPG came up and demanded to know what I was doing with the binoculars. FDPG has a passion (verging on obsession) for knowing what's going on around the yard. I handed over the binoculars and asked her to look at the bird for me.
"What do you think it is?" I said.
"I know what it is," she said, "give me those binoculars." FDPG is nothing if not confident. (Realize that up to this very second she had not actually SEEN the bird in question)
She squinted through the binoculars, then shrieked "OHMYGAWD! LOOKATTHAT!"
"What?!" I say, startled. Did a hawk grab the bird off the top of the tree? Did the bird wave at her? Smirk at her? Pick its nose? I can't think of anything that would warrant such a sudden horrified shriek, so I grab the glasses and look for myself. The bird is no longer there.
"The bird isn't there any more," she says, unnecessarily. No kidding Sherlock, I think. This is our latest favourite household expression, but I seem to be the only one who knows how to use it. I decide that this is a Correct Use Moment. That shriek would send any one out of any tree.
"That tree is filled with caterpillars!" she tells me. "I think I saw thousands of them. Maybe more." And yes, FDPG does think, act, and speak in Hyperbole Mode most of the time. In fact, I think she was born in Hyperbole Mode.
But I'm used to Hyperbole Mode, so my attention is fixed instead on the mention of numerous caterpillar nests in that tree. Always that tree. My heart sinks. I didn't use a dormant oil last year, mostly because it rained every time I thought to spray. I also didn't reapply Tanglefoot around the base of the fruit trees. Truth be told, I didn't do anything to those fruit trees. And we happen to live around a lot of deciduous forest-type trees. Messy, bug covered, deciduous, forest-type trees that like to share their insects. Thus the THOUSAND UPON MILLIONS of caterpillars on my Granny Smith.
I sigh. "Let's go see what kind of bird that was," I say. "Let's get out the bird book."
And so we did. We think it was a Yellow Warbler. I wish I had gotten a photo of it, because it would have been far more interesting than a photo of all those stupid bloody caterpillars.
If you're interested in what to do with YOUR caterpillars, you can do what I'm about to do and spray the trees with BT. It's an "organic usage" bacteria spray that causes the little buggers to get severe stomach cramps and die in agony. Well, I'm not actually positive that it does that, nor do I care at this moment in time, and when I was searching for a link to give those of you who don't know what Bt is, I discovered that its use is now considered controversial, which thrills me even more than the knowledge that my Granny Smith harbours many thousands of caterpillars because now I will have a pang of guilt when I spray, but I do know that it will kill the caterpillars.