The Woolly Bear

What Does A Caterpillar Do On New Years Eve?… Turns Over A New Leaf!

Where did April go and what happened to the rain we were expecting?  I know it was supposed to be a cooler and dryer spring but this is ridiculous.  The light misting we received Saturday night and Sunday was merger at best.  The only salvation, at least for me, was the fact that it wasn’t 90 degrees in the greenhouse thanks to the clouds.  Outside watering for my perennial beds, the garlic and other plants will be a must.  The night time temperatures are still dismally cool but change is coming and everything seems to be surviving.  

I had what I thought was Cabbage Moths in the greenhouse a few weeks ago, then I noticed my Ornamental Kale plants were being chewed on.  Close examination found no little worms on the plants so I decided to put out a mouse trap and sure enough it was a mouse with a taste for Kale.  I was also given a good example of why you should rake the lawn in spring removing dead grass, broken tree limbs, cones and any other debris you don’t want being caught up in your lawn mower.  Some neighbour was busy mowing Saturday and was hitting so much debris the machine was stalling out.  They were either mowing their lawn or clearing some land that a cat would have been more appropriate.  I sure won’t be lending them my mower.

I also spotted a caterpillar that I have seen over the years and  I have identified it as a Banded Woolly Blear and this is the offspring of the Isabella Tiger Moth.  It is banded black with orange and is very hairy.  It may not be the best idea to handle it as its long hair may cause irritation similar to having touched fibreglass.  It can withstand the coldest of winters and actually freezes solid.  It grows rapidly before spinning its cocoon dining on the leaves of dandelion and other leafy plants.  When it completes its life and emerges as a Tiger Moth it has only two weeks to find a mate and lay eggs and then it dies.  This is a rather benign caterpillar in comparison to many others.  Many caterpillars are serious agricultural pest and were one of the plaques of Egypt.  Others can be of assistance as they will eat the eggs of other pest such as aphids, scale insects and ant larvae.  Many have become resistant to pesticides and some can actually cause rashes, asthmatic reactions, kidney failure and serious hemorrhagic conditions.  Fortunately these traits are not common to the varieties we have here.  We do have the Tent Caterpillar and I’m sure most of us have seen their large tent like structures hanging from trees.  These should be removed and burned before they start devouring the leaves from trees.

See the ad to the right and if you would like to come out to the greenhouse please phone and get the address as well as book a convenient time to come out.  Plants will be available at the Monashee Co Op as of May 1st and of course at the Lumby and District Public Market starting on Saturday May 8th.  Look forward to seeing you!

Happy Gardening!

Samantha Nason
BS Ranch & Greenhouses
250 547 6567 • samanthanason@hotmail.com

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