Tuesday, July 5, 2011
The Japanese Are Invading!
A battle is raging on this continent, in every backyard, across the prairies, in the mountains, and even in the big cities. I am a warrior in this battle and I gird myself with the proper armaments – I must be prepared.
Long before Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded this country. Oh, no, not the Japanese people but one of their most insidious pests – the Japanese Beetle. Every summer I begin my patrols. I closely examine my crepe myrtles, roses, and birches, searching for those little armor-plated creatures and anticipating the newest invasion. Dreading when it starts.
Well, this year it came a bit later than usual. They must have decided that devouring most of my roses and shrubs could wait until near the Fourth of July. I can hear their war council now – “Maybe she won’t notice that we stripped a tree in less than twenty-four hours if she’s busy celebrating.” Ha! Never! I am ever vigilant, forever watching and forever waiting. My battle barometer is a beautiful weeping cherry. I know when they have arrived because the tree becomes a lacy web of stripped leaves, turning brown in the summer sun.
I walked out the other morning and there they were, happily munching on my cherry tree. Time for battle! I calmly went inside, grabbed my sprayer, loaded it with liquid Sevins and proceeded to the first battleground. I laughed gleefully as tiny bodies fell from the sky - their iridescent armor littering the ground beneath the tree. I moved on, anticipating their next move. The crepe myrtles. And there they were, eating my lovely watermelon-colored blooms. A steady stream of liquid poison flew from my weapon and, once again, coppery bodies hit the ground. I was winning! Until…
I rounded the corner and noticed they were in the river birches and my favorites, the white birches! The trees were too tall! What was I to do? I was out of ammunition and no sprayer I owned could reach the tops of those trees. I retreated. Time to regroup. A quick trip to the local farmer’s cooperative got me the big guns – a water sprayer. I attached it to my hose and set out again. This time more bodies rained from the sky. Take that! How dare you eat the leaves from my favorite trees!
I thought the battle was over until I noticed the beetles had relocated to my grape vines! This was simply too much! I had run out of liquid poison so I had to retreat to the old tried and true method – dusting the vines with Sevins. Growing up on a farm, I knew how to handle it. Grab a pillowcase, throw some Sevins in it and proceed. This was close, hand-to mandible warfare but I had to save my grapes. Let the dusting begin. I coated the leaves with white powder and the little devils began to fly – they had no taste for my old-style combat. Finally finished, I went into the garage, battle-weary with a white-coated face.
The war is subsiding even as I write this. I can hear their little wings beating a hasty retreat. I still make frequent forays outside, sprayer or pillowcase in hand. Let them rear their ugly little beetle heads. I am the warrior!
Do you fight this beetle battle every year? How do you approach it? Share your choice of weapons in this monumental fight and tell me how you defend your yard.