Sat 15 Mar 2008
These shutters are on a little place up in our village. I love the bonjour sign.
There are all sorts of bad things that can happen when you garden. You can step on the end of hoe and it will come up and wack you in the face. You can hurt your back lugging heavy pots and rocks around or by pulling weeds. I've heard of people having heart attacks while gardening. I have had all of the above happen to me, except the heart attack part.
So what happened, you ask? When we planted trees in our yard, it also included two parasol pines. I remember the landscaping lady tell me to watch for caterpillar web bags in them and that when I saw them it was important to remove them and burn them. So, sure enough, the next Spring there it was. It's a sort of round shape and inside are eggs. For two years running, I've removed them and burned them. This year it was a disaster. There were two of them, one in each tree. Interestingly, they are always in the same place on the side that is, I'm sure, favorable to those little beasties inside that bag. I pulled one off, not very easily as the web is threaded through all of those pine needles. The second one came open as I was pulling it off. Ick. There were caterpillars inside and millions of tiny eggs. It was rather gross, actually, but I got it all off and burned them.
Later that morning I notice that my wrists are itching and that there are tiny little welts and a sort of rash. By that afternoon I had a huge rash, all bumpy red and itchy, on the back of my neck, all around the shirt line on the front of my neck, up and down my arms, and on my stomach. I had a miserable itchy night and went to the doctor the next day. She said it is a pretty common thing to see here. It turns out that the nest is protected by some sort of toxic chemical, the sneaky things. It sure did a number on me. I am now on cortisone and something else waiting for it to kick in. The rash seems to have died down but I am still itching. The doctor said you can burn the webby bag in the tree but I would think that would damage the tree some so I’m thinking you need to cut off the branch that is affected.. I’m not sure what I will do next year, because I know they will show up again. I won’t be pulling at them, that’s for sure. By the way, I was wearing a long sleeve shirt and gloves and the toxic chemical when right through them.