Thursday, April 14, 2016
While unsuccessfully searching for still butterflies, and before returning to mulching, I came across this hideous nest of Eastern Tent Caterpillars (Malacosoma americanum) in my 15 year old 'Royalty' crabapple tree. I hate those nasty caterpillars with passion rivaled only by my disdain for pack rats. Immediately upon spotting this budding metropolis of leaf-consuming spineless larva, I froze to avoid alerting them. I slowly and quietly reached to my back-pocket for pruners, in fear that the creeping crawlers might startle and move a few micrometers in an effort to get away. There, I grasped and smoothly produced my Felcos (slow is smooth and smooth is fast as in the best traditions of gunfighting), and I removed the offending branch from my eyesight, grinding it into the grass under my heel some distance away from the crab tree. Wild Bill Hickok, himself, would have been proud of my resolve and lethality.
My quest of mulching completion was then further delayed for another half-hour while I examined every tree in the immediate vicinity of the house and dispatched two more disgusting nests in similar fashion. The 'Royalty' crab survived the necessary amputation and will live to display its sickeningly muddy-purple blossoms yet another season. 'Royalty' is not a crabapple that I'd recommend to other gardeners. While some texts describe the tree as "particularly loaded with dazzle...covered in such rich, deep-pink flowers that it will literally stop traffic," I would describe the tree as a dull-purple blob with dull pink-purple blossoms framed by dull purple leaves and not worth any substantial cost outlay. Not my favorite crabtree, but I'm still not willing to throw it to the non-mercies of the Tent Caterpillar.