The very hungry caterpillar

One of Griffin’s favorite books is The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  He’s memorized the story and is always excited to see the beautiful butterfly on the last page.  As the book suggests, caterpillars are voracious eaters.  We have some not-so-cute ones living and feasting in our fields: cutworms*.  They are so ugly that I’m not even going to post a picture here.  You can see a pic on our Facebook page or just google “cutworm” and you’ll find plenty of pics.  Personally, I’ve never liked caterpillars.  Not even the fuzzy ones that everyone seems to think are so “cute”.  They just give me the creeps.  Now I have another reason to dislike them.

If the book were about these critters, I would re-write the story thus:

On Monday, the cutworm ate through one lettuce. But he was still hungry.
On Tuesday, the cutworm ate through two lettuces. But he was still hungry.
On Wednesday, the cutworm ate through three lettuces. But he was still hungry.
On Thursday, the cutworm ate through four lettuces. But he was still hungry.
On Friday, the cutworm ate through more lettuces than he really should have.  And the farmers got quite mad at the little twerp.

The victim: Flashy Troutback lettuce
The victim: Flashy Troutback lettuce

Luckily the damage has been confined mostly to the flashy troutback lettuce.  It’s sad to lose them but I suppose it’s all part of organic farming.  Pests will inevitably attack your vegetables.  In some years the damage will be minimal and in others, it won’t.  It is interesting to see how they favor a specific vegetable and don’t even touch the rows of succulent greens right next door.  It supports the argument for planting a diverse mix of vegetables and changing the mix periodically so that the pests don’t get too fat and happy on a single variety.  I suppose we can sacrifice one crop for the good of the rest.

For now we’re not grieving the losses too much because we had more seedlings in the greenhouse that we could use to replace the fallen lettuces.  But so the battle begins.

* Cutworms are indeed caterpillars.  They are the larvae of moths.