Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Personal War Against the Japanese Beetle a/k/a Extreme Gardening a/k/a Better Living Through Chemistry

"The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations."  David Friedman

. . . and those of us who think and act like small children.  

A year ago, my husband and I put in all new landscaping around our home.  We visited a consultant who chose plants that would be the right heights and would bloom in different colors from spring until late fall.  Plans were drawn to scale and massive amounts of money were spent on plants.  We tilled, we fertilized, we put in edging, we planted, we put down soaker hoses and buried our rain spouts and put in pop-up emitters.  We mulched, we watered, we weeded, and we were proud.  A few things bloomed that first year, and we were like proud first-time parents.  

This spring, we had to replace five plants that did not survive the winter.  I ran around trying to find just the right variety of sunray coreopsis and debated the different varieties of coral bells with the people at the plant nursery.  Soaker hoses have had to be reburied, new mulch put in, unending weeding done, new landscaping to start around the deck, watering during this year's drought, and still we were proud.  Everything was coming along.  

We were committed to having the best landscaping.  We didn't put down weed barrier because we were told it wasn't good for the plants.  We used only organic methods of gardening to be kind to the environment and keep the delicate balance of insects, flora and fauna.  

More and more weeds were coming in.  Thistles were taking over the flower beds on the south side of the house.  I picked out every one by hand.  Every night we watered.  We weeded and watered constantly.  And then one evening, I saw a green and copper colored beetle munching on the leaves of all four of my autumn magic chokeberry bushes.  Japanese beetles.  The only way to get rid of them is to kill the grubs in your lawn by applying powder to the lawn twice a year for three years.  The existing beetles will not kill the plants but will merely ruin the leaves.  

I searched the internet for an organic way to get rid of the existing beetles.  I found an article that said you should shake them off the leaves into a pail of soapy water which will kill them.  Then you should leave their little corpses in the pail to ward off any other beetles and also put soapy water on some of the plant leaves.  

So, I started collecting beetles.  I was watching three of them chew on a leaf one night, and something inside me snapped.  I grabbed the branch and started swearing "God damn sons of b**ches, you picked the wrong f***ing yard this time!" as I was drowning them in the pail of soapy water.  An elderly neighbor had been walking by just as I was doing this, and from the look on her face, she was quite startled.  I am now known as the Crazy Lady on the Corner and have no doubt been the subject of the elderly coffee gatherings every morning at the Food Court at Target.  

I am finished with this whole organic thing.  Those beetles are going down.  

Kumbaya and pass the chemicals.  


  1. I hate to tell you this, but we put down weed barrier and have only lost one plant in 10+ years. Good luck with your battle, but the weeds win every time.