We moved into our house here in the suburbs of Rochester, New York way back in 2004. Wow! It certainly doesn’t seem that long ago. Our backyard has a lot of oak trees as many of you well know from my whiny annual “leaf campaign” posts each Fall. In addition to our own oaks, many of our adjoining neighbors’ oaks lean over our property. To say we’re inundated with leaves in the Fall would be a tremendous understatement. When we first looked at the property, we saw the trees as a very appealing asset. My opinion changed 180o immediately after we moved in and the leaves began to fall.
Most of the homes in our tract also have oak trees and we noticed many of the trees had dark rings painted around their trunks. After we moved in, we asked a neighbor what was up with the rings and they said it was a chemical paint that discouraged gypsy moth caterpillars (photo above) from climbing the trunks and proceeding to the branches to eat the leaves. Bands of plastic are also used (photo below). Years passed and we never had a problem with the caterpillars until last year. This year is even worse. When I look up at the leaves on the trees, I see they’ve been ravaged by the insects. Our backyard and even the street that winds through our neighborhood are littered with small scraps of leaves leftover from the insatious caterpillar eating machines. I’ve determined gypsy moth caterpillars aren’t too bright because many scale the house, thinking it’s a tree, only to get stranded on the roof eaves and die.
In regards to gypsy moth caterpillar infestation, Wikipedia states, “If a tree loses more than 50% of its leaves for more than two years in a row, it will certainly be weakened and may not survive.” I’m all for less leaves to clean up in the Fall, but dead trees cost a lot of $$$ to remove. We already have two oaks that have died and need to come down.
This gypsy moth caterpillar infestation brings to mind the locust plague mentioned in Exodus 10:1-18. Of course, our insect problem is nothing compared to what the defiant Egyptians had to deal with. I also think about how calamities come into our lives that we have no control over. For me, there was being laid-off by Kodak after working there for 43 years, the frustratingly-long job search and the daunting challenges at my new company, my wife’s ongoing disability problems, the pandemic, helping my sister with advancing dementia to relocate to a Florida seniors’ facility, and now we’re all headed into a recession with a rise in prices and interest rates and steep drops in our 401Ks, partially caused by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
We like to think we have a great deal of control over our lives with our digital planners and calendars, but it’s a mirage. Calamities come into our lives often very suddenly and unexpectedly in this fallen world. There’s also the inevitable decline of our health and energy as we age. How grateful I am for my Rock, my strong Foundation, Jesus Christ. Many believers have endured far greater challenges than my troubles, where it was all they could do just to “hang on” and trust in God (when it is actually He Who hangs on to us – John 10:29).
I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. – Psalm 18:1-3