Fuzzy Fantasia, or Foe?

This little fella showed up on B’s hand one morning and slayed us with its exotic beauty. Neither of us had ever seen anything like it.

Apparently, s/he will grow up to be a white-marked tussock moth, whose favorite meals include a wide variety of trees and shrubs including roses, maples, and…eeeeek…apples! This was unfortunate news, considering after six years of pruning and attentively massaging our barren old apple tree with an expensive, natural product called neem oil, it is finally bearing fruit. Ongoing deliberation about just what kind of apples we are about to enjoy is beside the point, as the fruit has heretofore never reached maturity during our time here at Smallpeace. Thank goodness for an abundance of local apple orchards.

Research suggests tussock moths are rarely numerous enough to warrant control, so I’m going to try and enjoy the extraordinary beauty of this little creature without conspiring to wipe him and his extended fuzzy family out. Though I do suspect he may have something to do with the pitting and scars I’ve been lamenting on the skin of our apples.

Just to be prepared, I’ve loaded up on neem oil for next spring. Who knew it was also a really great natural conditioner for hair—if a bit stinky. If any of you savvy gardeners out there have some advice for managing apple tree pests organically, please share.

Meanwhile, enjoy the amazing images by photographer Dann Thomas.

About Smallpeace

Michele Karas is a poet, essayist, and longstanding professional copywriter, who currently works for a top-five US book publisher. Her poems and prose have appeared in literary journals, including Tinderbox, THRUSH, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Narrative magazine, among others. Michele holds a BA in Journalism from San Diego State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from CUNY, The City College of New York. Find her on Twitter @small_peace.
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