|Buck Moth Stinging Caterpillar|
|My "new" dog walk gets a coat of paint|
in March, before the caterpillars arrive.
The Buck Moth caterpillars live on oak and willow trees, and crawl up and down the trunks in long lines. My yard is full of oaks, so my first line of defense was to wrap a band of aluminum foil around the trunk of the two oaks nearest my house and staple it in place. Sure enough, the caterpillars can't hold on to the smooth surface so they turn around and go back up.
|Caterpillar can't hold onto the smooth tape.|
I can't find a website that explains their life cycle and how they spend their days. All I know is they go up and down the trees, chomp on oak leaves all day for 8 weeks or so (we can hear them chewing) until they are fat, then they disappear. By then it's summer and too hot to go outdoors. About all Wikipedia says is they are an especial problem in Baton Rouge, LA, (where I live) where so many public areas are planted in oak trees.
This University of Kentucky website on stinging caterpillars, says there is no first aid for stings, but there absolutely is! I discovered it many years ago studying herbs, from an esoteric book called Health Through God's Pharmacy, by German herbalist Marie Treban. One little line in that book suggested Swedish Bitters as a remedy for bee stings. I bought a bottle at the health food store, by Nature Works, and it immediately neutralizes the pain and reduces swelling. Tried it on ant bites, wasps and stinging caterpillars, too, and it takes the sting out within seconds. I now keep a bottle of it in my car, RV, purse, and medicine cabinet at home. I've bought the prepared bottles, and also the dry herbs and made up bottles of the tincture as stocking stuffers. I've used it on kids and my dogs with immediate results. Just daub some on a cotton ball and rub it into the sting. Even if you are highly allergic, it works, but you have to do it right away for best results. It's hard to keep a dog from licking it off, though. You have to hold their paw for a few minutes, allowing it to soak into the skin.
|Adult Buck Moth|
Eventually the spiny caterpillars turn into these handsome furry moths, who mate and lay eggs in the trees. Supposedly if you spray the trees in November, it kills the eggs, but the sprayer only reaches up about 20 feet, not useful if your trees are 100 feet high. Meanwhile, if you should see one of these moths, please do your bit for humanity and KILL IT! Don't let them lay their eggs. Their offspring are pure evil!
Upwards and onward!