Joe had been about to catch the much prized Running Crab Spider when Jake’s yell scared the creature away.
He looked over to Jake to see what he was so excited about.
Jake was standing under a tree pointing at a branch and jumping up and down.
Something was in the branches.
Joe slowly walked to where Jake bounced.
“Shhhhh!” he said once he got closer. “We don’t want to scare it.”
Jake immediately stopped bouncing as his older, wiser brother approached. Quietly, he pointed to the lowest branch.
“What is it?” Jake whispered.
Joe stared wide-eyed at the unusual-and large-insect.
“I’m not sure. Some kind of gigantic moth.”
Carefully and ever so slowly, Joe lifted his bug house under the winged creature.
“Jake, hand me a twig.”
Once Jake handed him the twig, Joe gently pushed the bug into it’s new, temporary home and snapped the lid on.
“We’ve got some research to do Jake.”
“I found it!” Jake exclaimed.
Joe stopped typing and looked over Jake’s shoulder.
The moth he had found looked nothing like the picture. Joe smiled at Jake’s eagerness to be the first to find it.
“Let’s keep looking…just to make sure.”
After 20 minutes of fruitless searching, Jake shouted, “This time I really found it!”
“Let’s see,” he said to Jake. “Large, brown, purplish eyespots…yep, this is our moth. Good job buddy!”
Jake smiled with delight. He had found it and identified it. He was a real bug hunter now.
“Anthero polly-ifemus,” Jake sounded out the difficult latin name.
Joe wasn’t sure how to say Antheraea polyphemus either so he spent a few minutes looking up a recording.
“What does it do?”
“Let’s see…it says here that the caterpillar can eat 86,000 times its weight.”
“Whoa,” Jake said wide-eyed. “I wonder how much I could eat.”
“Once they are moths,” Joe continued. “They don’t eat anything.”
“Nothing?” Jake was wondering how he would survive without pancakes and sausage and eggs and bacon.
“Nothing. But they only live for a week so I’m sure they don’t get too hungry.”
Jake doubted it.
“What? What is it?”
“Well, some wasps and flies lay eggs in the little caterpillars and when they hatch, the wasp babies use all of the energy the caterpillar. Kind of like the tobacco horn worm. I wonder what these eat?”
Jake waited for Joe to find the answer. Could they eat people? Little boys were small. What if they eat little boys!?
“Uh oh,” Joe said again.
This was it. They ate little boys. They were done for. Jake cringed, waiting for the moth to attack.
“They eat leaves. Not only tree leaves, but grape leaves too.”
Jake sighed in relief.
“Thank goodness!” he exclaimed. “I thought they ate–uh oh.” He suddenly remembered the grapevines in the vineyard. His mom’s prized grapes that were supposed to finally produce fruit this year.
“Exactly,” Joe said.
“What do we do?”
“Well, we can’t attract squirrels because they would eat our strawberries. Our only option is to plant more trees.”
“Oak, willow, birch. We’ll have to plant more out in the swales too. We need to keep them away from our cherry trees.”
“They eat cherries?!”
Joe, with a very serious look on his face, turned to Jake. Cherries were a great favorite of the brothers. Anything that threatened a cherry tree had to be stopped. Immediately.
“Yes they do, little brother, yes they do.”
The boys raced inside the house to tell their mom that they needed more trees.