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Beetles

Every summer I begin a new battle for control of my garden. Like clockwork, the war starts in early July when those red-backed invaders known as Japanese beetles arrive by land, sea, and air. They are voracious and merciless, true sluts of the garden-pest world – they seem capable of mounting and eating just about anything they land on. Worse, they can also be found engaged in disgusting orgies, up to a dozen creatures intertwined on a helpless stem or leaf.

For two years in a row, in an attempt to control this plague, I’ve put out wind-vane shaped devices near the borders of my yard and tried to lure the beetles into a plastic bag hanging under the lures. I did this despite the warnings of so-called gardening “experts,” who said I would not only be attracting beetles from my own yard, but from all the surrounding yards as well. I ignored their warnings. To me, this was a moral issue, not just a practical one. Those lures were the garden equivalent of the A-bomb and I thought a cruel death in a hot black plastic bag was precisely what those garden terrorists deserved.

At the end of each summer, when the beetles seemed to have ended their rampage and gone away, I checked the bags. Sure enough, they were full of dead bugs. The only problem was that on the way to the black bags the beetles had also ate their way through many of my favorite shrubs and flowers. The carnage had gone unabated. In other words, “Mission Not Accomplished!”

I was desperate. It was clear that a new approach was in order. Since diplomacy was not likely to work, I tried something else. Here’s what I did, and I share it with you because it works…at least for me:

1) I got rid of the black bags and the lures. I thought of putting them in my neighbors’ yards with the idea of somehow returning the beetles that I “stole” from them during the previous summers. Somehow, I didn’t think they would appreciate my gift. The bags are gathering dust in my garage.

2) I found the largest empty pickle jar under my kitchen sink. I squeezed in a little dish detergent and filled the jar half-way with warm water. I grabbed a plastic knife from one of those drawers where you keep everything that you really don’t have a place for. I was ready for combat!

3) Now here’s the new technique: I walk through my yard twice a day – once during my lunch break, and once in the late afternoon. I introduce the beetles to my pickle jar. Basically, I use a Michael Jordan slam-dunk technique and stuff the critters with the tip of the plastic knife into the jar. Sometimes I miss, but my average is pretty good, perhaps a 90% dunk rate. Some of them even commit a kind of bug-suicide and hop in the jar without any coaxing from me. (It makes me wonder what kind of life they’ve had that they would do such a thing!) I will confess that it is especially gratifying when I find one of those aforementioned beetle orgies and – like a stern deity from the Old Testament – I whack the entire ball of corruption into the pickle jar where they are condemned to a soapy demise.

As I said, the pickle jar approach is working… so far. The two daily trips take about five minutes each. While I am out there, I also check on my plants and shrubs, make sure the bird-feeders are full, and just enjoy being outside in my garden. I’ve decided that I like this hand-to-hand combat against the invaders. Perhaps it is an illusion, but I feel that I am taking control of my yard — and my life. Although the war against the beetles rages on, I feel at peace with myself and the world around me.Image Source: http://images.google.com Continue reading

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