More of the mysterious Caterpillar Cavalry

Barrett, why these nasty pictures of bugs? WP_20130904_001

I know, I’m not an insect lover, but, I’m fascinated. As most folks know, New Mexico is a dry state that hasendured a worse than normal drought for years. You know, 9-10 months with NO measurable precipitation, ZERO. Humidity close to single digits.

But everyday, I walk my pup dogs morning, afternoon, and night. And we find the high desert a strange and wondrous place. The black velvet sky, the wind, the silence. There is much to appreciate. It is an untamable wild place where geraniums and lawn figurines are distinctly out of place. It’s a temporary place where I am just a guest. When I’m gone, it will reclaim the land.

I’ve written before about the resilience. In spite of intense drought, tiny blades of grass push through the clay-like soil. A handful of hearty birds and bunnies forage for food.

Then came this year’s “Monsoon Season” (yeah, I laughed at that when I moved here, too.) This year we got rain. Every day in July and much of August, WE GOT RAIN. Small amounts, regularly. After six weeks, the ground was saturated. I saw puddles and ponds!WP_20130803_002

(This is my version of Horton Lake)

Then something I’ve never seen. About a month ago I saw the first bizarre looking WP_20130817_001caterpillars pushing up out of the hard packed dirt road. It was a little creepy. The next day there were dozens and then hundreds migrating across the rutted road.

DRAMA! 2 weeks ago, we had a big storm with some flash flooding. Lots of mud and the road had real gullies, but not one caterpillar. We walked a mile north and back. Not one. I was incredibly saddened that these little beings had fought so hard to get…somewhere. And apparently, for naught. Washed away in an instant.

The desert giveth and the desert taketh.

Then after several days, last Thursday I saw one! A survivor! of course I took a picture. But it looked different, a light green. Same head and tail. Then there were a few more, WP_20130908_005much smaller, some different. They had survived or re-emerged. The sad thing is that I have no idea what they are or where they’re going, but I sure as hell am impressed by their grit and determination. It reminds me of salmon swimming upstream to spawn–every year, against insurmountable odds.

So, I’m not going to complain about how hard writing is. I’m lucky to have the chance to do it. Yes, it requires patience, persistence, and determination. But if those little guys can do it, so can I!


(yeah, the last one was a very photogenic grasshopper)


balefire_lgBalefire is coming!

4 thoughts on “More of the mysterious Caterpillar Cavalry

  1. Oh, my God, don’t you know what those are? They’re the dreaded flesh-eating worms of the Gobi Desert. How on earth did they get to your neighborhood in the U.S.? What a mystery. (The indigenous peoples use them to dye fabric and kill enemies.)

    1. Thank you Elizabeth! What would I do without you as a resource. I will build a tiny internment camp and round them up. Who knows how valuable they might be against foreign invaders. Or even Zombies!

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