Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Destroyers

Oh, happy day! The azaleas in front of the house are getting ready to bloom again! It made me giddy to know that we do indeed have the Encore Azaleas. As I was admiring the new blooms I noticed an interesting caterpillar so I hurried inside to retrieve trusty Mabel II (my camera). After my eyes became adjusted to the foliage I noticed more and more and more of these suckers until I was all, "We've got a frickin' army of these things! This can't be good." 


It was about to rain so I went inside to consult with Google. Turns out these are azalea caterpillars or datana major. Azalea leaves are their crack, but they'll also settle for apple, blueberry, red oak and rhododendron. 

Today was a clear day so I continued my observations, noting that the bushes these little devils were on the night before were pretty bare, and "the family" were now latched onto the next bush, having themselves an enormous feast.

As much as I wanted, I just could not harm them; after all, they are God's creatures doing what they were designed to do, but I felt for my azaleas as well! Not fair to them, right? So I hand plucked each caterpillar, gently placing them in a plastic container as green goop ran down my arm. I don't know if they puked or pooped on me, but EWWWW! Being a nature-loving gal has its down side for sure.






I got a little too close with my camera and this one reared back, trying to threaten me I think. But I just laughed.

Another angry little devil. Hee!


My little captives. I even threw in some crack so they wouldn't have withdrawals. It was the least I could do.

Safely at the edge of the woods behind our house, hoping they do not find their way back!

And that was a good portion of my Saturday afternoon! Hope you had more fun than me. Or is it I?

Edit: Thanks to Hilary at The Smitten Image for selecting this post for Post of the Week! I always have a good day if I win POTW. I was having a pretty sucky week on the new job until today, then I came home and found this. Thanks again, Hilary! :)



40 comments:

Dave said...

Gail, I think you are too kind. Not sure that I would treat them so kindly! - Dave

TexWisGirl said...

do they turn into a butterfly or moth? they sure are pretty! trade you some of these for a few million grasshoppers!

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Hi Dave! Thanks for visiting.

TexWis, they are moths. I meant to say that in the post, but it was already too wordy. :)

Linda said...

Your wonderful photography makes these destructive little critters actually look pretty. That is, until they rear up and look threatening. Not so much then.

Tammy@Simple Southern Happiness said...

I dare say someone rang the dinner bell at your place and they called in the whole family. Bring on the feast...

My question is, where on earth were all those wild birds? This would have been a 7 course meal.

Feisty and rude they were to rear up those ugly little red heads at you, after all it was your bushes they were feasting on... I see you did manage to capture their picture for reference should they return. Those insects only get the taste of your bushes and freedom just one time then its curtains for them.

Barbara said...

Gail, they are truly beautiful with all the red and black!! You have more guts than I do, though, plucking them like that. What lens did you use for these photos? Gorgeous!!

ladyfi said...

Such beautiful shots of these caterpillars!

Deb Crecelius said...

I love looking at creepy crawlies...
but touching...no, not gonna happen.
Maybe with gloves on.
Excellent photographs!
Love your narrative.

bailey-road.com said...

Fabulous photo series of these destructive creatures!

Kathy said...

What fabulous pictures. I've been holding my breath for fear that I will find hornworms on my tomato plants. So far so good. I don't know if I could pick them off or not. At least I keep a few pair or disposable vinyl gloves around just in case of having a need not to want to touch my fingers on some creepy crawlie!

Starla said...

Great photos! And I had to laugh at you not being able to "get rid of them". I don't know if I could have touched them, but I would have probably found a way to get rid of them!! hehe

hootnonny said...

You have Carrie's heart! Better check those fruit trees tomorrow...bet they'll find their way back.

Deanna said...

Well, all I can say about these critters are they sure are colorful...I think I might have a hard time getting "rid" of them too, hope they don't find they way back. great macros!!

Rosemary Aubut said...

Just creepy crawlers Gail! Yuckamundo! Great pictures of these mighty warriors however! Think I might have bought some kind of spray and be done with them!

Pieces of Sunshine said...

Brilliant photos! Love their bright colours and seems you made a good choice, just hope they don;t return....

raisingahappyfamily-momof8 said...

your close up photos are amazing!! wow..I do not think i ever saw a caterpillar before I saw these pictures...thank you!! I know how you feel about squishing them...i cannot either. my son put them in a plastic cashew container and feed them leaves and they flew away blue butterflies...I never would have thought that!!
i am your newest follower..pls follow back if yu can

Danielle said...

What great photos. I love visiting here!!!

Tricia said...

Your photos are so wonderful, Gail! I love the one where the caterpillar is rearing up. I think I would've needed my gardening gloves to pick them off though. Actually, maybe my daughter would do it...she loves caterpillars. What lens did you use for these? I love the color and crispness.

Kittie Howard said...

OMG, you had an infestation of those little devils. You're a lot kinder than I am. I would've nuked 'em.

BTW, your new photo is great. You look like a kid. Hey, I want some of whatever you're eating.

Butterbean Row said...

Gail,
You are a brave soul. I don't think I could handle those things. Yuk! But they are kind of cute and your shots are awesome. I am wondering what lens you used too. Not your 400mm?
I am also wondering where the birds were?

♥charlotte

Vagabonde said...

Congratulations on your new job – it sounds like you will be busy. I really like your flower of the flowering maple – the colors are so delicate. I enjoyed looking at all your birds. We are in Memphis right now at my daughter’s – there are no squirrels here so she gets loads of birds at her feeder. Those caterpillars can really eat a bush bare. When we were in New Orleans we visited the Insectarium - they had several rose branches full of caterpillars behind a glass – when we went back in front of the exhibit, there were hardly any leaves left on the branches. Your photos are so clear – really nice.

missing moments said...

You are a kind soul! Now, will they become butterflies I wonder???

justine said...

I know they are awful but you have made them look terribly pretty! lovely shots

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Phil said...

Quite right too. They may not be everyone's cup of tea but who are we to upset the balance of nature? Cracking shots by the way. and at least they move about and do things, unlike plants!

Linda R said...

Those little critters look so cool. But I wouldn't want them on my plants either.. Such great photo of them..

Hugs~

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh Gail, the pictures are wonderful, and I'm not one of those "eeeky" girls -- I usually like creepy crawlies -- , but oh my gosh, your beautiful azaleas ... I'm terribly afraid they will find their way back.

It's a dillema.

Hilary said...

You're a true gem, Gail. Thank you for being so kind to these creatures. And for photographing them so well.

Michelle said...

So kind of you to help them along, I hope they don't find their way back. They are beautiful...your photography is like eye candy. I swear...if you don't contact National Geographic soon, I just may have to do it for you!!!!!!!!!!! :)

Shug said...

Good morning Gail...
I don't think I have ever seen these little rascals before. they really are kinda pretty...I do hope that they stay where you put them and won't find their way back to your azaleas. Amazing isn't it, how fast they can destroy a bush? Hope the job is going well....
hugs

Lisa Gordon said...

Bless your heart!!
There sure are a lot of them, but they also made for some wonderful shots!

Daniel LaFrance said...

Lovely photos, Gail. I think you might be able to add a new skill to your resume.

Caterpillar wrangler. ;-)

Tree Hugger - Suzan said...

Your macro photograpy is amazing!! By chance do you know if these turn into butterflies or moths?

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Oh my goodness what a collection and your photos of them are really good Gail.

Dianne said...

I love you for moving them!
I do that sort of thing all the time and most people, including my family, think I'm nuts

they have rights too is what I say
these are the prettiest pillars I've seen

TexWisGirl said...

YAY! another POTW!!!

Kerry said...

Ahaaaaaa? Lookit how AMAZING they are close-up! So cool!

Tabor said...

Congrats on your POTW...and you are waaaaay too nice!

Nancy Claeys said...

I usually let the swallowtail caterpillars feast on my herb plants because, well because...

lailani said...

Oh my gosh! These are great shots!