Thursday, May 24, 2007

Danger at the kindergarten 

So, just as I was thinking that I only had more boring palace pictures to post, I have an interesting experience at the kindergarten. As I arrived to pick up Jacob, there was a group of moms gathered at the gate, not able to enter. One of the teachers was telling us we had to go around the block to the backside of the building to pick up the children. The problem was a tree near the main entrance of the school. It was infested with caterpillars, and no one could go near it. These are hairy caterpillars, and the hairs can break off and make you sick. Not only that, but there were three children with rashes that were typical of the caterpillar rash. So - the playground was closed as well as the main entrance. The fire department was on it's way, to see what they could do about this infestation. After picking up Jacob, we made our way into the aldstadt to mail a letter and visit our favorite cafe, Cafe Parzival. When we were finished, we walked back to the kindergarten to get the truck and the fire department had arrived! They were donning Tyvek suits (just like in C.S.I.) and preparing to deal with the issue. We managed to get out of there before the hairs started flying.

Of course when we got home I had to research this a bit on the computer. My search started with the phrase "hairy german Caterpillar" which eventually led me to what I think is the culprit, the Oak Processionary (Thaumetopoea processionea). What I thought was the school being overly cautious is actually pretty serious. I saw the rash on one boy, it was definitely something you would notice. Some of the articles I read on the internet described small epidemics in areas where the caterpillars where numerous. Apparently, you don't have to even be near them, the hairs can just fly around on the wind.

So, finally something to post about besides castle visits, great weather and beautiful flowers. Those I will catch up on later!

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