Gather round, gather round and let me tell you a tale of human folly. First, let me introduce you to this little guy. Doesn’t he seem like a nice little caterpillar? Being all cute & fuzzy-like.
It is a lie. This little beast has been a serious plague in our country over the past year. You see, once upon a time this little guy only lived in a really tiny part of the country, bordering Germany. There it would make its nightmarish nests in oak trees where they would nestle together in a webbed ball until it was time to become butterflies. They were no trouble to anyone.
Until this year.
This year, they were everywhere.
Why you might wonder? Why because we are idiots of course. Apparently people were having some trouble with Buxus caterpillars earlier this year. These little guys were snacking in people’s gardens, leaving them almost bare. So they did what they thought was logical; they sprayed the shit out of them to kill them. These dead caterpillars were swooped up by a national staple; the great tit. They love snacking on caterpillars & are their natural enemy. One small problem, the poison in their snacks killed them. Quickly it wiped away a whole section of this birds population in several areas, leaving no natural predator to deal with the furry little guy in the photo. Combine that with the wealth of oaks planted all over the country with not enough diversity of other trees surrounding them, they spread. And they spread fast. Last month they’d been spotted in almost 80/90% of the country.
The problem now wasn’t so much the caterpillars themselves anymore, but those furry little hairs they have all over. These hairs cause red, irritated skin and hives. Not just that, they are so tiny that you can’t even see them, but you can breathe them in. Over the summer months, they’ve caused a lot of health problems. From the telltale red irritated skin to respiratory & eye infections.
And all because we couldn’t leave well enough alone. 🤦♀️