Why I Stay Indoors These Days
This is a spring cankerworm - Paleacrita vernata. They have invaded our neighbourhood. The above picture was taken from our living room window. Notice the 2 pairs of posterior appendages, thus distinguishing it from the fall cankerworm, Alsophila pometaria. (Gee, don't I sound like I know what I'm talking about?)
Now imagine about 100,000 of these little guys in your front yard. I'm making an honest guess here - that's no attempt at hyperbole. Here's a bigger shot, with the worms circled in red (the one that appears to be on the mailbox is actually on the window):
Now I normally think caterpillars are quite fascinating, but that scientific detachment goes the way of the dodo when they all hang on silken threads from the trees around our yard. I can't go outside - heck, I can't even open the door - without being accosted by these webs. These worms have their own little internet in my neighbourhood. If I walk under a tree I invariably get thread in my hair, and I've brought more than a few of the worms themselves into the house unknowingly.
Apparently dropping from thread is one of their defense mechanisms, plus it's a way of looking for food when populations are large and there isn't enough food.
The city is already actively spraying to control the populations of these pests, and I say good for them. Our area should be done soon. I can't wait.