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You can knock me down, step on my face ...

This didn't work out quite the way we insected.

We asked for a clever translation of Malacosoma disstria, the Latin name of the forest tent caterpillar, that hairy creature that has been crawling across the consciousness of Tampa Bay. The winner was to receive a nice book about gardening.

And what did some readers give us? More Latin!

Mulchasoma dis-treea, you said. Forest tentus amongus maximus grossus. Malicious squishus. Disgustus crunchius stickius.

Let us say this in a way that those readers will understand: You-us lose-us.

We do not like to perpetuate stereotypes here, but we noticed that most of the people who did not bother to read the instructions were _ how shall we say this? _ men. Fortunately, a lot of women understood what we wanted, probably because of their intuition.

We received three dozen entries. Honorable mention goes to "walleyed, round-bellied woolly boogers" (Norita Leisring), "low-riding larva" (Faith Bennett), "slowpoke oak folk" (Stacey Smith), "marathon of distress" (Judy Schrader) and, in the juvenile category, "pooper troopers" (the fourth-grade class at First Baptist Christian Church in Pinellas Park).

The winner _ and recipient of the Readers' Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening _ is Jean Kenly of Clearwater. Her name for the bluish bug with the sticky innards: "My blue suede goo."

Several readers called to ask what they could do about the caterpillars. Thuricide works fairly well. Some have considered suicide. It's probably best just to wait. Most of the caterpillars have stopped eating leaves and started spinning cocoons. The whole thing will be over in less than a moth.

Month.

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