• One Minnesota Writer

This Summer’s Onslaught

The continual onslaught of stuff occasionally builds up to something completely unmanageable. I’ve been tossing old papers and magazines from my office and helping my daughter sort through items left from when she was little. We’ve filled garbage bags, the recycling bin, a bag for the Goodwill. It’s a good feeling to free up space, be done with items that have no place in our lives right now. And it’s nice to send the usable things to someone else who might be delighted with them.

But I didn’t really plan on getting rid of the leaves on our back yard birch trees.

Say hello to the Japanese beetle infestation of 2011. These crazy-looking iridescent beetles are munching their way through a stand of five river birch, leaving behind lacy-patterned leaves in spite of applying insecticide at the tree bases to try to save them. I stood under the trees with a long rake to knock beetles off branches this morning and was bombarded with the little beasts.

Good thing I’m not terribly squeamish. What I am is angry that these critters have decided my trees make a nice smorgasbord and they outnumber us enough that attempts to get rid of them seem futile. Sure, they have to eat, but not here.

We’ve gardened a long time and haven’t had many problems with infestations other than occasional leaf mold or aphids. One summer brought leaf hoppers and we had to pull out a lot of coneflowers. Our garden has always recovered and the damage has never been terribly wide-spread.

This is different. The beetles are changing the landscape in the back yard for months to come (there won’t be a great display of yellow leaves here this fall) and they poop an awful lot if the one that landed on my shoulder this morning is any indication.

Okay, I may be a little squeamish.

Now, if I were very Zen-like or otherwise philosophical, I might take this opportunity to consider what kind of metaphor these uninvited guests who have ravaged the birch trees – and my daughter’s potted strawberry plants – might provide for a life lesson on what we think we can control. Right?

But no. I am, instead, off to the garden center to find some really lethal beetle traps.

If you’re fighting a similar battle, talk to me.

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