It occurs every five to ten years, and we are in the middle of it.. the dreaded California oak moth cycle. The moths appeared and fluttered around the trees in June, laying their eggs. The moths died and the worms hatched, but they haven’t been noticeable until lately. A continuous crunching sound can now be heard as these insects slowly but surely defoliate all the oak trees in the area. And of course where there is eating… there are droppings. Caterpillar droppings (aka frass) has been accumulating at amazing rates under the trees. It’s fertilizer for the trees (and they’re gonna need it to recover), but it’s a big mess otherwise. The seat cushions and tables in the greenhouse courtyard were covered with it, and the fountain was full of frass soup. Cleaning it every day didn’t help! We know that the moths have been part of the ecology of the oak woodland for thousands of years, and we have another year of defoliation to go… but we didn’t want it raining down on us anymore!
So a cover went up over the courtyard, wood panels covered in plastic… slightly slanted to the back, away from the courtyard. The plastic hanging down in the back keeps it from blowing back in and sitting under it sounds like it’s sprinkling outside. The next morning… frass free!!