It's not that I can't do it by myself, I'd just rather not have to.
My lifelong caterpillar phobia has abated in recent years but I still don't like to see or think about or be anywhere near the nasty creatures.
Walking out to the mailbox yesterday I saw an ugly writhing mass of tent caterpillars in the crook of a little crabapple tree I planted a few years ago. They were writhing so vigorously I couldn't ignore them.
I remembered reading once that the way to get rid of tent caterpillars is fire. A torch was recommended, and in fact there used to be an oxyacetalene torch at my house (back when Mike and I were welding together on Sunday afternoons rather than painting) but it's gone now.
There also used to be a little torch for starting fires in the barbequeueueueue (I was just going to keep putting e's and u's on that word till it looked right, but it never did...) but I couldn't find it and I was getting impatient.
So I rolled up some newspaper and went over to the little tree and tried to light my newspaper torch with some old, tired matches. The whole thing was a bust.
So I got the gasoline I use with my weedwhacker and poured some into a jar and soaked the end of my torch. I realized I was getting into guy territory - in fact, teenage guy territory - in fact, I reminded myself of Zed's friend who onced asked me if he could throw aerosol cans into my bonfire...
It's because the tent caterpillars were writhing away and I was getting a little crazy.
My gasoline-soaked newspaper torch exploded with satisfactory drama and I applied it to the nasty webby tent. The writhing intensified, and bulges full of caterpillars hit the ground and sort of imploded into gooey black little masses, and I torched the tree till the caterpillars were all gone.
Then I realized I was about to set my own self on fire because the torch was much shorter than it had been previously, owing to the fire and the gasoline and everything...
... So I dropped the torch on the ground. Too close to my sandal! So now I have a little burn on my foot.
Then the wind picked up, and there were flickering flaming spots all over the place for a while, but I whacked them into dead ashes with a stick.
Then! I saw some survivor tent caterpillars re-ascending the tree! That was completely unacceptable! But my torch was incinerated. So I cut the buggers in half with my stick as they wriggled back up the trunk.
It's making me sick to recount this, so I'll stop now.
But it did occur to me: this would have been a good job for a guy. I wouldn't have minded just going "Eew!" and retreating to watch from a distance.
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