When I was about six, there was a plague of tent caterpillars. I collected caterpillars that summer and made pets of them, much to my mother’s disgust. (She was even more disgusted the next year when I moved on to snakes. And did you know that garter snakes bite? Oh yes, they do. Not when you leave them in peace, but when you carry them around in your hands.)
Anyway, I have seen an awful lot of caterpillars during some past summers, but nothing like what we’ve got on Gabriola now. Not even close!
Some parts of the island’s forest are pretty much unaffected, and I hope they’ll stay that way. Other parts… well, it’s a scene of devastation. Alder trees are bare, and caterpillars are devouring sword ferns and moving on to coniferous trees. I come out of those areas and pick caterpillars off my clothes before getting into the car.
The invasion is spreading. What will the Gabriola forest look like by the end of summer?