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Old 12-31-2009, 02:40 AM   #1
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Default Wooly bear caterpillar rescue

Either last year or the year before we went to pull out our snowblower and found this between the treads. He was wedged in there pretty good and we are going to have to use that snowblower. I considered buying new treads for the snowblower but my husband rolled his eyes and walked off when he found out we couldn't buy just one tread because Honda sold them as a pair. Honda wanted $200 for the pair. Ridiculous. I took a single edged razor blade and ever so carefully attempted to get in there to get him sliced out. I found a nice chunk of oak that had really deep bark and I was sort of going to simply transfer him into a crevice in the bark of the oak. Didn't work. I was coming way too close to the little guy for my comfort so I stopped to get suggestions from friends. I knew there was no way he'd survive having snow compacted onto him when we went to use the snowblower. I had to figure out how to get him out without killing him because no way no how was my husband going to go for replacing the treads to allow him to overwinter where he was.
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Old 12-31-2009, 09:37 AM   #2
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And?
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Old 12-31-2009, 10:36 AM   #3
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I went to bed…
Some of the advice I got from women.
* "If it's a nice big one - I'd say try to cut the silk away from the sides first (an exacto knife should work)...then gently slide something underneath (like a nail file or one of those straight edge blades from an exacto knife) that will allow you to cut through the bottom silk. There should be a pupa (cocoon) inside this silk concoction - on most moths so long as you don't damage the actual pupa it will be okay. These little silk concoctions wonders of nature are supposed to insulate against heat/cold/water etc. and damaging them could cause harm to the pupa. Although on certain moths opening this silk cocoon/shelter will most likely cause it not to eclose."
* "Don't you have any field mice that want to make a crunchy treat out of that cocoon? That would surely solve your dilema."
* "How about using a nut picker to grab him?"
* "What about if you put something like a nylon stocking over a vac hose (to catch him) and tried to vac him out, or would that damage him?"
Some of the advice I got from men.
* "Get the power washer out and crank up that bad boy. Then blast the moth out of the tire tread. If he gets wet throw him in the clothes drier on high for 5 minutes. He should be done by then."
* "Why don't you ride that snowblower around the neighborhood a few times and I bet the moth free itself since you've already loosened him or her up."

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Old 12-31-2009, 10:41 AM   #4
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Soooooo… I tried a straight edge razor blade. I was able to get the sides of his cocoon to release from the treads but... I couldn't quite get underneath that narrow slit between the two treads to be able to gently lift him out. I got the sides of him totally released with a straight edge razor blade and a special exacto knife type deal that I had laying around in craft materials. I got about a half inch of the bottom in front of him and behind him released because I had my husband take off the tread and I basically spread it out to get better access to those areas. The treads were too thick to "fan" out to allow me to get underneath him without damaging him. I needed to somehow release that 1" middle section on the very bottom that was still attached to the tread. I tried a metal nail file combined with a tweezers to gently lift the portions up so I could get the exacto blade in farther while my neighbor held a huge magnifying glass so I could work on it. I still couldn’t get at the middle section. Then I found another in the tread to a smaller snowblower we have. That didn't exactly make my day. I got the sides to him released too. The treads to that were even smaller than the big snow blower treads. I have no idea how he squeezed in between the treads on that one but he did it. Remember playing that game Operation where you had to use those tweezers and not touch the sides or you'd set off the buzzer? Trying to extract these little guys from between those tank treads was a lot like playing the game of Operation.
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Old 12-31-2009, 10:54 AM   #5
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I have this girlfriend that OWED me for a turtle she brought over in a bed pan that nobody at the hospital wanted to take home that she dumped in one of my ponds soooo two weeks into the extraction with everyone racking their brains... I showed her the problem and told her to think of something since she was a doctor. She brought me an assortment of scalpels hand picked for the "procedure" by surgeons... With surgical precision, I removed BOTH of them from the tank treads of the snowblowers. I ever so gently transferred them to the grooves of oak bark. I tried two different locations. One went inside a Rubbermaid storage container that I loaded up with bark and assorted leaves that went into my garage and the other little guy went into the bark of an oak tree outside. He wasn't quite staying in where I put him all that well so I had to try out a few different locations. After I found a spot that was just right… I inserted him and then sort of covered him up with a water proof bandaid and duct tape over that just in case I didn't have him wedged in there properly. The bottom of my tape-in job was left open for air circulation so he could get out next spring.
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Old 01-02-2010, 12:01 PM   #6
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You took a photo of your rescue! Yea Equilibrium! You are a dedicated mama to those woolly bears. Hope that they make it.
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:16 PM   #7
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I was pretty proud of myself getting them all transferred to new locations so we could use the snowblowers. It was sort of laughable how many people came over and looked at those tractor treads trying to figure out how to get them out. It got to the point that people weren't asking about the kids but were asking if the woolies were out or not.The woolies made it. We could see where they took off on their own. We bag up the snow blowers in big plastic leaf bags and tape them off at the end of the season since that happened. There’s something about those treads that are a wooly bear magnet and… I had to give back my scalpels.
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Old 01-03-2010, 11:40 PM   #8
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I loved this story! Good for you, Equilibrium! And it was great of you to get other people involved - make people more aware of the natural world.
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Old 01-04-2010, 05:14 PM   #9
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Lucky wooly bears. Disposable scalpel blades are heavily imported. They should be available from the internet from a medical overstock supply. You would need a handle.
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