The Caterpillar Returns

Posted by at 12:06AM

I was abroad last spring, so I missed the harrowing tales of students biking to class and ending up with caterpillars caught in their mouths or finding them crawling on a professor during lecture. Regardless, I have had my own run-ins with the furry creatures this week, which hang from trees on silk strings, swaying gently but menacingly in the wind. I don’t know who they are or what they want, but I will say this: Keep your mouth closed while biking, and Watch Out. You could be next.
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My favorite quote from last year’s Daily article:

“I understand they’re necessary for our amazing northern California forest ecosystem, but if you get in my hair and you’re going to become a moth, then don’t expect warm relations with me,” freshman Ryan Noon said. “I think we can respect these caterpillars’ right to live, while at the same time cursing their existence in a public forum. Pretty much the worst experience of my life was biking around and having a caterpillar go in my mouth when I wasn’t looking.”


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The species appears to be the Western tussock moth. According to the Forest Service,

[…in the spring, they] escape detection because they are small and
they cause minor damage. However, in June, the larvae get large, and they and their feeding injury become easily visible. Shrubs may be completely defoliated by mid-June. After larvae have transformed into adults and left the plants, the cause of defoliation can be inferred from their cocoons and the egg masses attached to the lower stems.

Shudder.
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Be careful where you sit… the benches on the West side of Encina Hall are a particularly popular hang-out spot for these guys.
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Lamp posts, too, apparently
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….basically anything that might be underneath the oak trees they seem to love
Grossness.

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3 Responses to “The Caterpillar Returns”

  1. Anonymous says:

    so would it be a public service to squash them? are they an ecological
    nuisance?

  2. Tina says:

    http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2007/april4/pests-040407.html
    Huzzuh!

  3. disgustedbybugs says:

    My friend and I were walking under one of the oak trees the other day,
    dodging caterpillars. It felt like we were in a Nintendo game. Yuck.

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