Hard times for trees

This has been the worst year I have ever seen for tent caterpillars or fall webworms on walnut trees. Millions of them completely envelope hundreds of walnuts and hickories around this area.

Last year I traded an ad in my magazine for a big, beautiful hybridized sweet gum, the kind that doesn’t bear seed balls. In the fall, sweet gums make the most beautiful and long-lasting foliage of any tree in the Ozarks. It is the only sweet gum on Lightnin’ Ridge out of dozens of species of giant trees.

And one day I went out to find three or four silky splotches of webs amongst its branches. On my hickories, I take a long pole, and put a big wad of newspaper on the end and I light it and hold it up to the places where those evil little worms are working away on the leaves. It quickly solves the problem.

But on that new sweet gum, I resorted to something seldom used up here on my ridge — chemicals. Wasp and hornet spray sends a stream up about 20 feet high and it eliminates those wriggling masses of worms just as well as it eliminates waspers, which is what they ought to be called if you grew up in the Ozarks!

My sweet gum has plenty of leaves left to turn gold and red and purple, but my walnuts are without any leaves. Take heart in knowing that the trees so enveloped in silk will not be harmed by all that mess.

Next year they won’t even remember it, and for some reason, these webworms are cyclic enough that they should not be very prevalent.

The walnuts are just everywhere, falling to the ground in numbers as high as I ever remember. My friend, Brian Hammons, owner of Hammons Products Co. in Stockton, will be very happy about that.

Fill up your pickup bed with walnuts and you might have nearly $20 worth of them.

But in many areas you have to sit in a long line waiting to have them weighed. Go straight to Stockton if you have a big load and take them to the Hammonds offices and you won’t have to wait.

Brian Hammons is a long-time advertiser in our magazine and I doubt it helps him a bit. I think he likes the magazine and wants to help us pay for it. It costs a lot to produce a magazine like ours, but I should be able to make $40 on walnuts around our place. That will pay a good portion of Ms. Wiggins’ salary.

Ms. Wiggins, as most folks know, is the executive secretary here, and she thinks little of walnuts, as she never bakes brownies. She is a little bit on the pudgy side, and it is best she doesn’t eat cook ies or brownies.

A couple of years ago she snuck out in the lawn on a windy morning to try to get a shot at turkey feeding at one of our feeders outside the office and was struck on the head by a falling walnut.

Thankfully, she had enough hair piled up on her head to cushion the blow. Ms. Wiggins kind of clings to old hairstyles and lots of make-up. I am absolutely sure she sells my books and magazines over the phone and pockets the money.

And it wasn’t long ago after returning from a trip that I found turkey feathers all around my corn feeder and lead shot inside it, if that tells you anything.

I’d like to see her get arrested for such a thing, but the local game wardens can’t get their pickup around where the feeder is, so they would never catch her.

My website is larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com and you can email me at lightninridge@windstream.com.

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