Caterpillar Schmaterpillar

In this post, I explore the sanctity of garden-life vs. the Melissa who doesn’t seem to give a rip. Who is this terrible woman with spray bottle and gloves I’m becoming??

Will I find a better, more caring approach to keeping plants intact, or is this the way it’s gonna have to be? Read-on, young grasshoppers.

Read on. 


Am I a bad person if I pluck caterpillars from my garden and drown them? Am I horrible for not keeping them around long enough to wreck every plant and then change into moths? Does the mother and teacher in me have to nurture them, too?

I do feel a bit guilty and squeamish and terrible. Thing is, I’ve put money and time and energy in the sun towards growing myself a little patch of green. I quite like it and the last time I had some caterpillar infestation, I let them run amuck; some plants never came back, but died off, never to bloom again. The gardenia is just being discharged from PT. Who knows if she’ll bloom again, though. It’s a long, hard road.

So, you see, I can’t let them win! Since discovering the cause of recent leaf damage and dying plants, I’ve launched an all-out assault.

It’s me, some dishwashing gloves, now with a hole through the index finger, and an Ikea mixing bowl filed to the brim with warm, sudsy water. I pull them off, yelp with how nasty their poor little (and sometimes massive) bodies are, and throw them in. Today, I pulled off some brown creature so big, it could belong in the turkey hawk family…of caterpillars. Ugh. Plop. 


I know my kids won’t be able to see them spin their miraculous cacoon, or crysalis, depending on what kind of caterpillars these are. I know that I want our family to always celebrate life. The fact that they undergo (or would under better circumstances) the most miraculous change makes it way worse.

Are they hurting me? No. Do they bite? No, again. How do you protect the garden you are trying to grow? How do you exemplify kindness in doing so? Well, I could move these suckers, but they inevitably find their way back. It just happens.

I could try my very hardest to figure out how to order praying mantis eggs or the eggs or larva of certain creatures that would…well, eat the caterpillars for breakfast. Maybe not so kind, either, but I’d be feeding someone.


I could spray them with poison. See?! Isn’t this terrible? All this talk of death when I just want pretty flowers and tomatoes! I never knew gardening was such squeamish and tough work–honestly! I thought you merely grow stuff and cut it and shove your winnings in a vase. Nope—it’s turkey hawk-sized grubs and creeping, crawling-on-their-belly-worms and everyday, twelve new pests knocking on my garden door and me, changing into some Ghostface Killah of the backyard. I can’t even tell you how many of them I’ve drowned.

I don’t know me anymore.

So, you who think you can just multiply and feed off my Tuileries? Well, little men. This gate is closed.

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