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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Gardener's Diary Archive: As the worm turns, April 9, 2015

The last few days have been delightful out. It's been warm- into the low 80s- and mostly sunny, with a nice breeze.

It has also been The Time of The Spring Cankerworm.

"The little bastids", as my pal Boston Eddie would call them, climb up trees in late fall, lay their eggs, and play canasta still spring. Then the new generation, frisky and full of promise, parachutes out of the trees, suspended by long, virtually transparent filaments, a Normandy air invasion of Lilliput.

But walk anywhere near a tree and you will find them all over you, as you walk through their slo-mo zip lines. I look up and see them dangling from the brim of my Stetson straw hat- at least they don't get into my hair that way. But I find them all over my shirt and pants, placidly making their way upward, as if to relaunch from my nose. Charlotte has been besieged by them for over twenty years, and still they proliferate, aided by the seemingly endless stands of tasty willow oaks (I have seven).

They don't like being photographed, either. I tried to catch some in flight and they always seemed to waft out of range at the last sec, no matter how close I was. One, however, was slow on the uptake (or downdraft):

A little above the center of this snap, see the little yellow stick-like thing? That's a cankerworm, about four feet above the ground.

Dandelions? I'm their Pol Pot. Yesterday I deflowered 218, including a dozen or so that opened their bright yellow blooms in areas I had finished pulling half an hour earlier. In a bit, I am out to see how many have dared to show themselves.

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