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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Caterpillar Drama

You may remember our death experience with our recent caterpillar experiment....well, we got to try a BIG way.

We have a big side garden, and there's a bed of day a friend was over and happened to notice like 20 caterpillars on the back of a leaf! Weird....didn't think much about it...we must have been busy because I really didn't think about it for awhile...maybe a week or so.....(big mistake!!)

The next time we went to look at them, there were not so many clustered...and I though, cool, they're dying or going away (nope). Came in and started researching what they could be.

Meanwhile I decide...hey, this is a cool free experiment for everyone..I'll put a bunch in a cup and give them away! Yeah, no buying mulberry leaves, etc, we'll just give away the leaves that are already damaged. So, I offered them up to local homeschoolers....figuring I'd let them come get some in the next 3 or 4 days and then I'd kill them off over the weekend (another bad bad idea....)

Well, I did give many away (if you have some, kill them after you watch the metamorphis...they are nasty nasty procreating buggers!!!)

It was while gathering them that we realized just how many we had....and how many had already become moths, and how many more eggs were laying around. Ohmy....but still I waited till the weekend to kill them!

Anyway...turns out they are Grape Leaf Skeletonizers (AKA Harrisina Americana). Beautiful caterpillars and even more beautiful as moths. If they just didn't lay eggs they'd be perfect! Or eat my grapes......

So, we researched organic killers and found a great one...BT...bactillus is a bacteria that does not affect humans but kills these little buggers. I felt bad...but I had saved as many as I could....

Now every day I am out there swatting the moths with a toy shovel, clipping off leaves with eggs and dipping them in boiling water...and trying to get rid of these pests/educational opportunities. (They are weighing heavier in the pest category lately....)

But we did get to see eggs, caterpillar, moth stages...and loved doing so!! See, we can even turn pests into learning!

To spray...add liquid BT with water and some vege helps coat the leaves and stay!

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