They’re trying to compete with the human takeover of Earth. They camouflage themselves with fluttery, seductive, feathery-sweet wing-light in the late afternoon, but we know better.
The California Oakworm or California Oak Moth (Phryganidia californica) is in its first mating season in Santa Cruz County (hold on folks, there can be two or three mating seasons each year!). Last week, while walking in Schwan Lake Park & along the rail line, I could hear the clamourous masticating of caterpillars & the dropping frass of their letting go. Then it was errily quiet for two days. I knew what was coming.
The Oak Moths. Scientists say that there is an 8-10 year cycle of the closely-linked Oak Moth and tasty leaves of our gorgeous California Live Oak trees (Quercus agrifolia). But it hasn’t been eight years since the last infestation. This is happening nearly every year. Is it because of climate change? Not enough predators? What’s going on??
I’m all for relational evolution (hmmm, is this a scientific term?). But as the dominant Earthly species, can’t we have a say in this? Caterpillars that love to attach themselves to our clothes & hair are kinda creepy, don’tcha think?
Of course, it’s not their fault. They’re just being Oak Moths. They don’t know or care that they’re being annoying & defoliating our beloved oak trees. They’re just trying to mate & carry on the species. Just like us.
Well, except we human primates have something we call awareness about it all…about being annoyed by caterpillars & worried about tree damage & yes too, buoyed (momentarily) by the magic of multitudinous flying beings flitting around everywhere. It’s our blessing & our curse, don’tcha think?
Ah, for the simple life of metamorphosis.