Friday, May 17, 2013

Do caterpillars feel pain?

I want to know, because I've been burning their tents all over Falling Downs.

I figure the research crew that was knitting the caps for the dung beetles should be able to answer this question.

Burning off the caterpillar tents was a spring ritual as far back as I can remember. The folks used to do it with something called a "Lotlampe." That, I assume, was a primitive precursor to the propane torch.

So for several years now I've been fetching a new propane torch at the Tractor Supply Company every spring. The flame is so modest that you pretty much have to roast the caterpillars one at a time. That makes it almost personal. Not to mention incredibly time consuming. You're out on the range for an afternoon and you killed 27 caterpillars.

Hell, my walking stick was more effective.

So I was looking for a more efficient technology, and by god I think I found it! The TSC has a "garden torch" on offer now. I was a little reluctant about the price; you're looking at fifty bucks for a garden torch, minus the propane cylinder.

That's more than double what I pay for a propane soldering rig, including the cylinder.

But I have to say it's been worth it. That four foot wand lets you get a lot of stuff that would otherwise require a ladder. The auto-ignition is pretty sweet too, although I suspect it will fade away after a month or so just like those BBQ lighters.

The good news is that I'm now dispatching the caterpillar population like there's no tomorrow, which I guess there isn't for them. Nevermind 27 caterpillars in an afternoon; I'm now toasting 27 caterpillar tents in an hour!

Thousands upon thousands of caterpillars!

But I've got this nagging doubt at the back of my mind...

Do caterpillars feel pain?

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