Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Cleaning

Or how I have found another reason to love our Shop-vac.

I hate tent caterpillars. They are horrible, no good creepy crawlies that defoliate plants and drive me mad. Part of my extreme reaction is due to the fact that I lived in a very rural part of Connecticut during a truly horrific infestation in the early 1970’s. You had to use an umbrella whenever you stepped outside. Every time we drove the car it had to be hosed off once we got back home.

It was horrible.

As a result I try to eliminate any tents within reach on our trees.

Around here they seem to favor our crabapple tree next to the house. I’ll find a few tents, lop off the branches, bag them and send them off to the dump. It’s no big deal and the infestation is minor.

But this year is a different story.

The little horrors set up shop in inaccessible locations or at the base of the main branches. It was simple impossible for me to do my usual routine. I have been watching with great dismay as they defoliate my favorite tree. I hoped the two nights in the low 20’s would have killed them off, but no. Like a bad horror movie they would spastically twitch in the weak morning sun and then be back to normal in a few hours. I contemplated blasting them with water before those cold nights, but I didn’t want to ruin my hoses or spread them about. Insecticide really isn’t an option since the dogs love to nose about under the tree and the children play there.

And then I got an idea.

I could vacuum them up with our Shop-vac.

Yes folks, I spent several hours today vacuuming my tree and it was fun.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was so satisfying sucking them up and their awful tents. In fact it was downright addictive. I so caught up in my tree vacuuming that I was late meeting Meryl. When I called her up she laughed at my explanation and then asked “You are going to blog it, right?” “I am so going to blog this” was my reply.

At one point the filtered clogged from a particularly large tent. With a little trepidation I opened the canister. I wasn’t sure what I would find. I was dreading the aftermath when I would have to rid the canister of its wriggly cargo. Instead I was delighted that they had all turned to goo.

Yes, I have hit upon a way to rid my tree of a pest in an ecologically sound manner. I just plug in my little shop-vac and “poof” they are gone. No nasty chemicals or smoke belching machines.

As an added bonus it even entertained the kids. They loved watching me vacuum the tree and in fact Jake even joined in the fun.

I bet none of their friends got to vacuum trees over spring break.

I can’t wait to do more tomorrow morning.

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