Jon was annoyed. He looked at Jen and pointed. “There it is, the first sign of Spring, a ladybug on the wall.” Well, in reality, it was an Asian Beetle, not a ladybug, but they were climbing out of hibernation and out of the woodwork. Jen sighed. “I'll go grab the bug vac and get started. If I don't get them now, they will be all over the place.”

She left the kitchen and went to the closet where she stored the portable vacuum cleaner designated for such use. Those beetles stank like burnt peanut butter and Jen preferred not to contaminate her household device with that smell. She plugged it in and began sucking up those bugs, room by room. They preferred the sunshine near the windows so that's the main place Jen focused. When she finished every room in the house, Jen then took the vacuum outside and dumped the bodies as far away from the house that she could.

As she dumped them, Jen looked around. The ground was wet and muddy from the thawing of the snow. “Hmph,” she mumbled to herself, “There are so many more things that indicate Spring other than these darn beetles.” She shook the container out one more time and then returned to the house.

Jon was waiting for her when she got inside. “You need to go back to the bathroom, there are so many on the window they block the sun.” Jen sighed and headed back to the bathroom. As she walked past her husband, he smiled at her. “Thank you for doing this,” he said kindly, “you are the best.” Jen smiled in return and continued to the bathroom.

When Jen got to the bathroom, she was surprised at how many of the bugs there were. Jon was right, there were so many you couldn't see the sunlight. She plugged in the vacuum and started to clean them up. One of them landed on her wrist and bit her. “Ouch!” she yelled. She turned the hose around and sucked up the one that had bit her. “Thought you would sacrifice yourself for your brothers? Ha, think again!” she taunted. It took her half an hour to clean those up and then she had to dump the canister again.

The young woman walked outside the ranch-style home she shared with her husband. They had 120 acres where they grew oats, wheat, corn, apples, and various vegetables. She loved the Springtime, when all the snow melted, the Spring rains washed away the dirt and green plants poked their selves out of the ground. There were few bugs, too, other than those annoying Asian Beetles. The ticks, gnats, mosquitoes, and hornets had not yet come out. Jen dumped the canister and returned to the house.

“Any idea why these things are here?” Jen asked Jon when she returned to the house. Jon shook his head. “I heard a rumor once that aphids were ruining the soybean crops in the late 80's so the farmers and some government agency decided the best way to deal with the aphids was to import some natural predators from Japan. The problem was, the Beetles didn't have any predators here so their population exploded and they migrated from that one or two places out into the whole country. I also heard the beetles don't eat fruit, and they don't bite humans, but I can refute both of those claims. I've been bitten by a few of them, and they have ruined our Wolf River apples more times than I can count. Because we farm organically, I can't spray the trees to get rid of them.” Jon sighed deeply. “I hate those things!” Jen nodded.

Another round of vacuuming and Jen was once again outside and dumping the beetles. She looked around and saw a robin hopping around in the wet grass, looking for worms. Jen watched it hop over to a previous pile of beetles she had dumped and the robin grabbed a few before flying away. She was astonished! Seems like the beetles had enemies after all.

Jon laughed when Jen told him about the robin. “Seems like eating fruit has sweetened those buggers up enough the birds are eating them,” he laughed. “Serves them right for eating my crop.”

After another round of vacuuming, Jen dumped the canister, then went to feed the animals. All of them were showing signs of shedding their shaggy winter fur. Some of them were even a little frisky as they romped around in the mud. Jen smiled.

At night time the Asian beetles settle down and are no longer flying all over the house. Jen then made some dinner for herself and her husband and they ate in silence. “I'm exhausted,” Jen breathed, as she started to clean up the dishes. Jon touched her shoulder gently. “I'll take care of them, you go rest,” he said. Jen kissed him tenderly on the lips and then went to their bedroom. That night they snuggled close and enjoyed each other's company.

The next morning Jen woke up with the sun. So did the beetles. She even found a few in the bed with them. “ARGH!” she cried after she accidentally squished one and could smell its horrible odor. “Now I have to wash the sheets!” Jon helped her remove the sheets and replace them with clean ones. As Jen was walking to the laundry area, Jon kissed her on the cheek. “Darling, I have to go to town and order the seeds for the field. I won't be gone long.” Jen nodded and headed on to start the laundry.

Once the wash was started, Jen began vacuuming bugs. There seemed to be more of them today, and Jen had to dump the canister after she finished the first room. Where were they coming from? After she was again outside to dump the filthy things, Jen breathed in deep the fresh, damp air. “Smells like Spring,” she muttered and she turned to go back to the house. Inside, she moved the sheets from the washer to the dryer and began the task of sucking up bugs all over again. Had she even finished the first round of vacuuming yet?

Jon returned home from town and deposited a bag on the kitchen table. “It's lunch,” he said, “let's have a picnic outside.” He watched a beetle fly from the window to the kitchen table. Jen nodded, grabbed a few napkins, and followed her husband outside. They walked over to their patio, removed the winter coverings, then sat down and enjoyed some freshly made bratwurst. “Ah, it's grilling season,” Jon breathed as he ate the last bite of his sausage. “Thank you for bringing home lunch,” Jen said, “after smelling those horrible bugs I don't have much of an appetite for cooking. It was a great idea to eat outside.”

Jen spent the remainder of the day vacuuming up the bugs. She couldn't imagine there being any more bugs, but the next day she had to do it all over again.

It was a never-ending cycle that took about 2 weeks before most of the beetles were removed. Jen wondered how so many of them could even be in their house. Then, finally, Jen woke up and looked around. “Something is missing,” she said to Jon. He groaned. “Huh?” Jen bolted upright in the bed. “The ladybugs! They are all gone!” she exclaimed. Jon smiled, “yes, so they are. It's time to get those crops in the field!”

March 25, 2021 00:18

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