My daughters have been trained killers since the ages of three and four. Weapon of choice? Dish soap. It was fun and made mommy happy. I sound like Joan Crawford in the garden. But a few weeks ago, my oldest, Emma, who will be 18 in a few months, told me it wasn’t until recently that she realized her childhood memories were slightly different from those of her friends. I cringed as I waited for her to elaborate, my mind Rolodexing for any moment that may have left a mark. The tale she shared with her friends involved death, roses and soap.
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
It was late June and the roses were opening. At the time, I had three Frau Dagmar Hastrup rugosas planted beneath my family room windows. Their scent is heavenly. No sooner would a bud open then the Japanese beetles would descend, devouring it in the midst of their orgy. A friend suggested I remove all the rose blossoms entirely and hope for a rebloom after the bugs passed. I wasn’t having it and decided my girls and I would deal some death. Armed with a bottle of dish soap, some shallow plastic snack bowls and two little girls, we got to work. A few drops of soap and just enough water to suds it up and we had our weapons. Fortunately, the girls have never been squeamish about bugs and had no problem holding the bowls beneath the flowers, tapping the flower gently and watching the beetles fall to their death. They die so willingly, like lemmings. We actually enjoyed it, the girls especially so. It became a contest to see who could accumulate the most dead beetles. Sibling rivalry.
This year things are different. It’s just me. Ironically, my oldest has a job protecting lives at the park district pools. Abigail, my 16-year-old, would rather be doing anything other than drowning beetles. As of just a few days ago, the beetles have returned and the rugosas are suffering. I am too, in the way a mom does when she realizes her kids are fledging the nest. It’s no longer just snakes and snails and puppy dog tails. It’s sports, high school dances, friends, first jobs, first boyfriends. I miss my sweet little assassins. Japanese beetle death isn’t as pleasant when it’s no longer accompanied by little girl giggles.
Japanese Beetle Control
I see it so frequently in my neighborhood. Homeowners hang long yellow trap bags to attract Japanese beetles. Pheromones in the bag are irresistible to the insects and do the job well. Unfortunately, locating a bag near the garden is about the worst thing you can do. It’s like covering yourself in honey and hoping no flies find you. Eventually they make it to the bag, but not before discovering your garden and all it has too offer. It’s a beacon best located away from all you hold dear. Like your roses.
For me, I’m hoping that as my girls find themselves, they eventually find their way back. Is there a bag I can hang to make that happen?