This past weekend (why is it always on a weekend), L. happens to mention in passing that there is water dripping from the light fixture in the children's bathroom. What?! She was right. J. went poking around behind the knee wall on the third floor to look at the air conditioning unit, and discovered there was something wrong with the drain. So today, we got to meet a very nice HVAC guy, who came out and fixed it. It was no surprise when he said that all the heating and cooling systems were very old and ineffecient. I fear we are living on borrowed time in that department.
This wasn't exactly news, though. We were told at the inspection that these systems were old, and it was already on our radar. It costs money, but they are relatively easy to fix. The problem that we weren't expecting or anticipating was that we seem to be the source of every Japanese beetle in the country. At least it feels that way. I had noticed these beetles when we first moved in, and thought there seemed to be a lot of them, but secretly hoped they were benign. Then B. saw them and filled me in on how not fine they were. I encouraged the masses to collect them and feed them to Q., who does love them, and went on with my unpacking.
Then, this weekend, when out and about the property, we realized that we have so many Japanese beetles that they are completely decimating some of the fruit trees. I'm not sure one particularly large cherry tree is going to survive their onslaught. The worst moment was this morning, though, when I looked at a small apple tree, and every single apple was completely covered in Japanese beetles. It was pretty disgusting and infuriating all at the same time.
I rousted the children out of the house, gave them instructions, and started hauling buckets of warm, soapy water out to them. This seems to be about the only thing one can do to get rid of them. There were quite a few that ended up in the water, but it was both literally and figuratively a drop in the bucket. We discovered that you really need to get out there when the day is still cool and the sun not on them, because they are slower and stay put. The minute the sun warmed the air and shone on them, they were off. K. and L. have an alarm set for the morning, because they are happy to join my crusade of eradicating our property of this vile infestation. Thus, Project Zero, as in zero Japanese beetles.
We will also be put down a lot of milky spore on the grass come fall and then spring, to kill the grubs, but that isn't going to save the trees right now. I have a feeling that this was one of those things that the previous owners just didn't have it in them to tackle, and instead of killing the grubs when the beetles were first noticed, the population was allowed to flourish.
I can now see how we will spend the rest of our summer. Q. is valiantly doing his part, but one quail cannot possibly eat as many beetles as we have. Heck, I'm not even sure a whole covey of quail could eat as many beetles as we have.