The Mystery of My Frangipani Tree

frangipani caterpillar
Frangipani Caterpillar

There is a large native frangipani tree growing just off of the deck of my house. Its been there a long time. A piece of rusty barbed wire is embedded in the bark of the tree trunk, which means it was here and large enough to support a barbed wire fence back when Chocolate Hole was dedicated to the raising of livestock. There’s also a concrete animal watering trough nearby. So we’re talking about a tree that’s been there for at least 60 years.

I’ve been living in this house for about 15 years and I’ve only seen this tree with full grown leaves about a dozen times and only twice have I seen it produce flowers. This is because as soon as the leaves even begin to grow, frangipani caterpillars appear and devour the new leaves in a matter of days.

In theory, the caterpillar is supposed to wait until the leaves are full grown and the tree flowers. At that point they eat the leaves and fertilize the tree with the after products of the digestion.

I understand this relationship and how both the tree and the caterpillars can survive. What I don’t understand is how this particular tree has survived so long with hardly ever being able to produce leaves, which I imagine would be essential for photosynthesis and the production of food and energy for the tree.

Next time around I think I’ll pick the caterpillars off the tree and see what happens.

St. John Live Music Schedule

Banana Deck
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6:00 – 9:00
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Wayne Clendenin and Pamela Love
4 :30 – 6:30
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Happy Hour 4:00 – 7:00
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Inn at Tamarind Court
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6:30
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Island Blues
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Morgan’s Mango
James Anderson
6:30 – 9:30
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Chris Carsel
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James Milne
5:00 – 8:00
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St. John MorningSt. John Weather

Scattered showers, with thunderstorms also possible after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 75. East wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

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Old Wife

St. John Marine Creatures: Queen Triggerfish
Old Wife (Queen Triggerfish)

Old Wife used to be plentiful on the reefs around St. John. They were easy to catch, whether by line, spear or trap. I used to catch a lot of them when I fished commercially on St. John back in the days. Now, you hardly see them at all.

Selling them was another story. Although a tasty fish, their tough skin presented a problem. First off, they needed to be skinned instead of scaled and not everyone had that particular skill, leading many to avoid buying them.

The other problem was that fish lacking scales and/or fins were forbidden to the congregation of the Seventh Day Adventist Church as well as to the zero observant kosher Jews on the island at the time. This is debatable as some people take the position that Old Wife does in fact have tiny scales over their skin, although not readily discernible.

The problem was solved when I discovered that Eric Christian, who operated the only real restaurant on St. John in those days called Eric’s Hilltop, featured Old Wife soup on his luncheon menu. Eric would buy all the Old Wife I could supply and, by the way, when Old Wife is boiled, the skin comes off easily.

St. John Live Music Schedule

Castaway’s
Karaoke Night
9:00
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Coconut Coast
St. John Flutes
5:30 -7:00
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High Tide
Steel Pan
Happy Hour 4:00 – 7:00
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Rhumb Lines
Shane Meade & the Sound
7:00 – 10:00
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Shipwreck
Chris Carsel
6:30 – 9:30
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Virgin Fire
Gypsy Jazz
Hot Club of Coral Bay
6:00 – 9:00
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St. John and Virgin Islands News

Swimming could help spur USVI’s tourism industry
Published: April 1, 2014

Creating a national sports policy for the Virgin Islands has been in the news lately, with the Senate Committee on Culture, Historic Preservation, Youth and Recreation holding hearings about the topic on both St. Thomas and St. Croix in recent weeks.

Sen. Myron Jackson, committee chairman, is drafting a bill to be vetted that would create a policy to help sports move forward in the territory.

Swimming should be an integral part of a national sports policy in the Virgin Islands. Let’s face it, we are surrounded by water. No matter what happens in the Virgin Islands, we have to travel places and are transported either on the water or over it. In most areas of the Virgin Islands, we are never more than a few minutes from either the Caribbean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean. It’s common sense that we should embrace our island’s innate gifts, and swimming in the Virgin Islands is one of them.

Swimming is an ideal sport to attract tourism to the Virgin Islands. Currently, the Virgin Islands hosts the annual Beach to Beach Power Swim on St. John and the annual St. Croix Coral Reef Swim. These are both ocean swims that attract many hundreds of people to the Virgin Islands…. read more

Man drowns during attempt to swim from Coki Point to Thatch Cay on Saturday night
By ALDETH LEWIN (Daily News Staff)
Published: April 1, 2014

ST. THOMAS – The body of a drowned man was recovered near Thatch Cay on Sunday.

The man had set off about 4 p.m. Saturday with a friend to swim from Coki Point to Thatch Cay, according to V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources Environmental Enforcement Assistant Director Jessica Magras Parris.

“His friend made it over, but he didn’t,” she said.

Ricardo Castrodad, spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan, said the federal agency got the call that a swimmer was reported missing the next day.

“We got a call around 10 a.m. Sunday of an individual that had gone swimming with a friend in the area of Coki Point,” Castrodad said. “They were caught in the current and separated and the survivor was able to make it to Thatch Cay where he reported spending the night and then got to St. Thomas the next day and made the report.”

The Coast Guard was providing support for the St. Thomas International Regatta on the East End, and diverted a vessel from the regatta to help look for the man.

“Around 11 a.m., we located the body of the other swimmer who had been reported missing,” Castrodad said. “We were able to recover the body and transfer the person to DPNR personnel via boat to boat transfer.”

The body was found near Thatch Cay, he said…. read more

Man found dead Saturday after swimming near Hull Bay
Daily News Staff)
Published: April 1, 2014

A man was found dead Saturday of an apparent drowning near Hull Bay.

The incident was called into 911 at 12:37 p.m. Saturday as a water rescue/dead on arrival at Dorothea Condos.

St. Thomas Rescue Chief Joseph Cranston Jr. said the volunteer rescue workers had a boat in the water, but the body washed to shore where it was recovered.

He said it was a man, believed to have been swimming when he was swept out to sea.

Cranston said the body was recovered just around the bend from Hull Bay.

“It washed back up to shore, it went out to sea and then came back in on the current,” he said.

Cranston said the seas on the northside of the island were particularly rough and dangerous for swimming.

“The seas were very rough, especially the one down in the Hull Bay area,” he said…. read more

2 charged with cultivating pot after neighbor alerts authorities
By FIONA STOKES (Daily News Staff)
Published: April 1, 2014

ST. CROIX – Two young men have been released from jail on unsecured bonds after being charged with cultivating marijuana.

Eachan Simon, 25, of Mars Hill, and Claudiston Sonson, 21, of Estate Plessen, both appeared before V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks on Monday morning and were advised of their rights after being arrested and charged Saturday with cultivating marijuana, destruction of evidence and possession of a controlled substance.

According to court documents filed by Police Officer Darryl Walcott, he and his partner were called to a disturbance Saturday afternoon in Estate Grove Place and when they arrived they met a woman who complained that someone had tampered with plastic she had covering her window, and may have been trying to break into her home.

The woman also told police that her neighbors had been growing marijuana in their backyard.

When Walcott and his partner went behind the home, they saw Sonson walking along the fence line towards the back of the property where he began pulling up what was later confirmed to be potted marijuana plants.

According to police, he was ordered to stop pulling up the plants because they were now considered evidence. Sonson, however, continued pulling up the plants and was soon joined by Simon, who pulled up additional plants which they threw over the fence in the direction of the officers, according to the court documents.

Walcott and his partner called for assistance and the two men were arrested. Walcott said a total of 44 marijuana plants were seized…. read more

Innovative could soon lose 17 channels, including MTV, BET and Comedy Central
Daily News Staff)
Published: April 1, 2014

If a threat made by Viacom/MTV Networks is made good, Innovative customers will be without 17 channels today. Despite the threat, the channels were still available to Innovative customers at press time early this morning.

Innovative Cable officials were doubtful the threat will be carried out Monday afternoon, however, and are keeping customers informed on the status of the negotiations.

Viacom/MTV Networks has been in negotiations with the National Cable Telecommunications Cooperative for some time. The cooperative is a nonprofit organization that negotiates programming fees on behalf of about 1,000 cable television providers across the country, including Innovative Cable.

According to Innovative officials, Viacom/MTV Networks are demanding fee hikes that amount to about 40 times the rate of inflation, according to Innovative officials.

“These price increases would be excessive especially in our current economic situation and extremely burdensome and unfair to our Innovative Cable TV Customers,” an Innovative written statement said…. read more

V.I. Charter Boat Rule Passes U.S. House
By Source Staff — April 2, 2014

The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014 passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday with a provision allowing V.I. charter boats to carry more than six passengers, according to Delegate Donna M. Christensen and Gov. John deJongh Jr., who both praised the development. The bill still needs to pass the Senate and be signed into law.

In a statement on the floor of the House, Christensen praised Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster and ranking member Nick Rahall for including language in the bill that would clarify a problem that has hurt the charter boat industry in the territory.

“This is something our charter boat industry has been advocating for at least 20 years,” Christensen said on the House floor. She said when the Passenger Vehicle Safety Act was passed in 1993, it limited the number of paying passengers that may be carried aboard uninspected vessels. “Because of the existing rule, our once thriving charter yacht industry has migrated to the British Virgin Islands and estimates of revenue losses to the USVI economy range from 70 to 100 million dollars annually,” she told the House…. read more

St. John Weather

Scattered showers, mainly after 2am. Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. Northeast wind 9 to 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

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