Thursday, September 22, 2016

Bagworms and Webworms and Trump, Oh My!

by Pa Rock
Farmer in Fall

I noted a couple of days ago all of the "Trump-Pence" signs that I saw while driving west across northern Arkansas.  Today, while driving the same route, only headed east this time, I noticed evidence of other pests.  The trees, in the early morning mist and fog, were startling white with the webs of leaf-eating worms.  Especially hard hit were walnut trees, many of which were plastered with the webs (each holding hundreds of hungry moth caterpillars) and a few dangling walnuts.  Thankfully, most of this raping of the green ended about the time I got to the Missouri state line,  a situation I credit to the "show me" state having the good sense and common decency to elect a Democratic governor - although there were still a few infected trees, due no doubt to the failings of our Republican legislature.

I had always referred to the caterpillars living in these large webs as "bagworms," but wanting to write about them I decided to telephone the Howell County Extension Office and get the definitive name from someone who actually knew.   I talked to a young man who just happened to be there answering the telephone while the other workers were at lunch.  He readily admitted that he did not know the answer, but volunteered to look it up.  The fellow finally came back to the line and said, "Yes, you are right.  They are bagworms."   He even offered to provide the Latin name, but I declined on that.

(For those who suspect that Pa Rock might be a tad bit too lazy to learn a Latin name, chew on this:  "Agricolae et puellae in silva sunt."  Don't ask me why I remember "The farmers and the girls are in the forest" from my high school Latin class, but I do.  It must have been important at the time!)

Then, as I began writing this piece, I decided to fact-check the fellow at the University Extension Office because I had some lingering doubts that I could so easily be right about anything.  It turns out, according to the Google, that bagworms are the small worms in individual bags that cling to expensive shrubbery.  The worms in large webs high up in the trees are a different creature altogether and are called "webworms."

(An uncle of mine once offered to pay me and my cousins two-cents for each bagworm we picked from the shrubs in front of his house.  Not only did we clean out the shrubs, we cleaned out Uncle Bob as well.  That offer was never repeated!)

Fortunately, Rock's Roost is currently free of bagworms and webworms, but should any arrive, I will know what they are and the appropriate way to treat them - such as with love and respect - or with disdain and chemical violence!

One must wonder, I suppose, whether Donald Trump has an official position on bagworms and webworms - or will he just make fun of them.  It's a situation that has a direct impact on his supporters, many of whom still live in trees!

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