Tired, hot and hungry, Joe trudged up the deck steps with his bug gun trailing behind him. He’d just dumped a bug house full of Japanese beetles into the chicken feeder; his bounty after hours of hunting.
“There’s just too many,” he mumbled.
“What’s that sweetie?” his mom asked.
“Oh nothing,” he said. “Just tired from the latest beetle battle. I didn’t even get half of them today.”
“Hmmm…maybe you need reinforcements,” suggested his mom.
Yeah right, he thought. Who would he enlist for such a task?
Then he smiled. He knew exactly who to call.
Joe waited impatiently for his new team to arrive. The beetles were swarming. He could almost hear them eating the garden.
“They’re here Joe!” his mom shouted.
Joe hurried in to the kitchen to meet them.
Issabella and Cheyenne, Joe’s cousins, strode into the kitchen with a look of excitement in their eyes. After some small talk, the trio sat down at the table while Joe’s mom got the milk and cookies. It was time to talk business.
“Issabella, you will be the spotter. You have sharp eyes and you are quick.”
“What about me?” asked Cheyenne.
Joe grinned at Cheyenne. “You and I will be the shooters.”
The three cousins stood outside under the playset as Joe laid out the game plan.
“Wow,” said Isabbella. “You weren’t kidding when you said gazillions of them.”
Cheyenne checked her bug gun to make sure everything was secure and attached the laser light.
“OK, here’s the plan. First, we’ll hit the roses and strawberries. The strawberries are pretty much done for the year, but Mom is getting really upset about the state of the roses.”
“Got it,” said Cheyenne.
“Next,” he continued, “we’ll check the fedge and the vineyard before heading to the back gardens. They’ve really attacked the Jerusalem artichoke and okra there. After that, we’ll head over to the kitchen garden. Mom planted borage as a trap crop, but we still need to get them away from everything else.”
Joe looked at the girls. Issabella was bouncing on the balls of her feet, itching to get started. Cheyenne was scoping out the landscape, eager to pull the trigger on her bug gun.
“Alright, let’s go!” said Joe.
At first, the hunt was going quite well. Issabella, with her super-duper vision was darting across the yard, spotting beetles and calling them out to the shooters.
Cheyenne was laughing maniacally, throwing her head back after each thwap! of her gun, and Joe was in his element, filling his bug house with thousands of the beetles.
Then, something changed. The beetles suddenly seemed aware that they were being hunted. They formed a cloud and swarmed towards the trio of hunters.
“RUN!” screamed Issabella.
“What’s happening? What are they doing?” yelled Cheyenne above the buzzing.
“REVENGE!” shouted Joe.
The three cousins took cover under the playset as the beetles circled. Joe was racking his brain, trying to figure a way out of this.
“We have to make a run for the house. It’s the only way,” he finally said.
The girls nodded grimly. Cheyenne holstered her weapon and Issabella tied her shoes. They both nodded to Joe. They were ready.
As they ran, Issabella, Cheyenne and Joe wildly swung their arms trying to fight the beetles off. They were just about to stop, drop and roll when suddenly a tiny tornado came barreling out of the weeds wielding a bug vacuum.
“It’s Jacob!” Joe shouted. “He’s come to save the day!”
And the Pest Patrol was born…