tent caterpillar 2 GolfTales RJSmiley

Invasion Of The Army Worms

This past summer I noticed a few Army Worms. But it was nothing like the invasion of the leaf eaters a few years ago.

Their foursome had been meeting at Izatys in mid June for years.  They even had t-shirts made for their annual Mille Lacs Lake – triathlon: Fishing, Golf and Beer Drinking.  The schedule was always the same: Friday, beer drinking and golf followed by a huge T-bone steak dinner.  Saturday, beer drinking and fishing followed by a shore style, fish feast for lunch.  Sunday, more beer drinking and golf, then home tired and hung-over. 

The once-a-year get together of old friends recalled stories of lost loves, new loves, holes-in-ones and these days, stories of kids and the three ring circus that surround them.   

As they parked in front of their condo they noticed a few caterpillars on the driveway and on the bushes.  In fact there were more than a few caterpillars.  “I see those army worms are back again,” said the tall guy with the, now greying, flat top haircut.  

“It is supposed to be a big year for the Forest Tent Caterpillars in central Minnesota,” the articulate financial planner quickly added.  

Trying to think of something clever to say the pot-belled high school football coach, belched, then added, “I just hope I don’t step on one of those things and get that green crap all over my new white FootJoys that my wife bought me for my birthday.”  

“You will probably get tobacco juice on them first…from all that Redman you chew on these trips,” said the real estate broker, who dressed like a model in GQ, and actually shaves everyday – even on fishing trips.

After the coin toss to determine which unlucky two had to share the third bedroom (and listen to the other snore and fart all night), the four amigos were off to attack the challenging Black Brook.  The worms seemed to be everywhere: on the ball washer; on the greens; even on the cart seat where Mr. GQ sat on one and got a slimy green stain on his white Tommy Bahama shorts.  Coach commented that the worms had eaten some of the leaves off a few of the bushes along the cart path.  The worms were even present as they grilled steaks, drank more beer and watched the spectacular sunset over the dead sea.

Up early Saturday and into the Money Man’s new black 18’ Warrior that matched his new Suburban, with $5,000 worth of fish finding electronics.  By the time they found the fish, in the deep rocks, the wind had freshened and the sun was beating down from the cloudless sky.  The amigos returned to the condo tired, sunburned, hungry and thirsty. 

Coach, the long-ago, self appointed chef, deep fried the walleye that Flat Top had filleted to boneless perfection while GQ shook his secret margaritas.  He always served them with Corona for a chaser.  The conversation went from women, to food, to fishing, to golf and back to women before lights out at about 10:45.

When they stood on the first tee at 8:55 on Sunday morning something seemed different.  Is it that I am just tired and hung-over?  Are my eyes blurry?  Things just don’t seem so bright or colorful?  Flat Top thought as he looked down the fairway.  Then Money Man said, “What happened to the trees?  There are no leaves.  They are not green.”  

“Yes!” GQ shouted.  “Those damn worms ate all the leaves in one day.  It looks like the moon, not a golf course.”  The round was fun but the course looked like they felt – sorta drab.

On the ride home in Money Man’s Suburban, WCCO news announced that the army worms infestation had reached record levels in the central part on Minnesota with as many as 4 million Forest Tent Caterpillars per acre.  They had stripped the forest clean.  But, don’t worry; in a few weeks the leaves were back – only smaller for the balance of the season.             

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