Actually, just one caterpillar at the moment.
Yesterday I came home early from work. I had no choice. They were cleaning the carpet in my office. I had no idea how much noise this makes. I felt like my head was going to explode.
I am bizarrely sensitive to sounds. Like some people are to scents. But just to give one small example, at work my Assistant Manager uses the scroll wheel on the computer mouse and it drives me insane. I ask her to use the arrows instead, but she forgets. Needless to say, I drive her nuts too.
But all the noise, big and small, is why I so value my backyard picnic table-sitting time when I come home. Yesterday was just perfect. Little birds were hopping and chirping (quietly). I was listening to Joshua Bell perform Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto on the Kindle (quietly), and reading my stress-free book, Run With The Horsemen by Ferrol Sams. Then I noticed a caterpillar on the table.
I like caterpillars in general, and this one was the loveliest I had ever seen.
Because I get sort of wrapped up when I’m reading, and didn’t want it to crawl on me (I don’t like them quite that much), I coaxed it onto a twig. I carefully set the twig on the ground amidst the leaf litter, away from the path into the house where neither I nor the dogs would step on it. I went inside briefly. When I returned, it was back. This time on my bench. I got another twig. Repeat.
When I came in for the evening, I Googled it and identified it instantly. (Side note: I bet Google and Fed Ex are ecstatic that their names have now become verbs. To blog friend Tim: watch them show up in the next OED, in case they aren’t there already.) So by Googling moth identification in Florida or something like that, I discovered they’re poisonous.
From what I can tell, they don’t kill you, they just produce an allergic reaction which includes skin rash, hives, eye inflammation, and bronchitis. Behold the White-marked tussock moth caterpillar:
So the white little fluffy feathery things are actually called “spines”, and if they touch your skin, or you get one in your eye, or inhale one, that seems to be the problem. And there I was being so careful with it. If I had known, I still wouldn’t have killed it, I would have just put its twig in the neighbor’s yard.
Ah, Florida, land of flowers, land of light (from the official state anthem “Florida, Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky”). Also land of poisonous toads, fire ants, and poisonous caterpillars. They kind of left that part out.