While the caterpillars are wreaking havoc in our garden, I have to admit they are growing up to be some interesting butterflies and moths. I pretty sure these are all moths (based on what I could find on google), but there are definitely butterflies hanging around too
Along with all of those pests, we do have some beneficial insects hanging around too. I watched this guy on one of our peach trees for a while
There is definitely a balance to strike when handling pest control in the garden. We want to get rid of a fair number of the harmful pests. We don't want to obliterate every insect in the yard though, it's nice to keep the beneficial ones around so everything can come back to a balance again. Many years, we have managed insects simply by resigning ourselves to the fact that we will lose a certain number of plants. In general, this works pretty good. We also try to use companion planting to help (though, as I mentioned, I think we should try out planting lots of garlic all around the borders).
But occasionally, you just have that perfect combination of "bug weather". Sierra and I have been reading the Little House books and read On The Banks Of Plum Creek this year. The Ingalls family loses their entire wheat crop to grasshoppers following a winter very much like the one we just had. The grasshoppers stick around and prevent a good wheat crop the following year as well. By the time it's done, they see the silver lining in a rough winter of repeated blizzards because they know it's the end of "grasshopper weather". Apparently, Laura's grasshoppers were actually Rocky Mountain locusts, which are no longer found in North America, but we still have quite a few voracious insects in our future. I'm interested to see how well we can get our garden to hold up under attack without resorting to pesticides I don't want to use on our food. I'm also curious to see what food prices in the grocery store do because it seems to have been a pretty mild winter nation-wide.