Joe stood staring at the remains of his mom’s 3-year-old apple tree. The leaves, if you could call them that, had been stripped of all but the stems. They were little more than an outline, a brown ghost leaf.
The hardy kiwi had suffered a similar fate, and almost every berry bush in the hedge had been brutally attacked.
“They’re back,” Joe said to his little brother Jake.
Joe pulled a small black beetle from one of the damaged leaves. He held it between his thumb and forefinger for an instant and then squished it with a savage smirk.
“Japanese beetles. They’re back.”
Last year, Joe had convinced his mom to plant a few borage bushes. He’d read that the beetles fed on the dusky leaves and purple flowers rather than other food producing plants.
The beetle damage to all other plants was minimal and the borage seemed to hold its own against the constant assault.
That was last year.
Apparently, this year’s crop found kiwi and apple leaves more to their taste.
“What are we going to do Joe?”
Joe walked into the house with a determined look in his eyes.
First, he filled a small bucket with warm, soapy water.
Then, he pulled out two sets of tweezers and two red plastic tubes.
“Follow my lead,” he said handing a set of tweezers and a plastic tube Jake.
They hit the kitchen garden first.
“First, use the tweezers to knock the beetles off into the plastic tube.”
“Wait, wasn’t this what our M&Ms came in?” Jake asked looking closely at the tube.
“Sorry. Ok, then what?”
“Once the tube is full, dump the beetles into this bucket of soapy water.”
“Can they swim?”
Joe looked long and hard at his brother before answering.
“No. They can’t swim.”
The boys spent the better part of the afternoon quietly drowning beetles. As the sun set, Joe decided it was time to stop for the day.
Hot and thirsty, Jake started toward the house.
“Hold on. We aren’t quite done yet.”
Jake walked back to where his brother stood holding the bucket of drowned beetles.
Joe smiled and headed for the chicken coop.
“The girls are getting a treat tonight!”