I have noticed the presence of tent caterpillars on my walks. I have not encountered the larvae as much earlier in the season, but now that they have woven their silk-like cocoons and are staying together as a group in their pupa stage, their omnipresence is unmistakable. Their homes look like marshmallows on the branches with fillings of leaves and twigs. They come in different shapes and sizes, and make such interesting subject matter for photography, whether I look at them through the morning light and shielded by the shades of the leaves.
Fellow hikers bemoan that the tent caterpillars are a hazard to the forest because their destruction of the leaves can be extensive in one season. Local resident are fearful that the tent caterpillars are returning for another wave similar to the one about ten years ago that forced the city into spraying as a last resort to control them. Northwestern Ontario is on alert with the defoliation, and the havoc is spreading into southern Ontario. (That’s why I notice them on the trails.)
As with most natural phenomenon, there is a balance of power. We human beings observe the forest leaf loss and the trees baring, but who knows whether this may actually help the undergrowth and smaller tress to get the sunlight, which cannot penetrate through the shades of the larger and taller trees. Birds, mammals and other insects rely on the tent caterpillars as a food source and caterpillar droppings are the natural fertilizers for plant life.
Whether an outbreak will take place in the next few years is still open to speculation. The experts are monitoring and I shall keep my eyes open on my walks. I simply marvel at how the ecosystem maintains its own checks and balances.
Let me break Paula’s rule by adding one more picture here. The silky tent is just a wonder.