In remembrance, "Poopie" the Pill Bug
May 10th, 2017- May 26th, 2017
It all started several weeks ago, when Millie and I transplanted the seedlings we had lovingly started indoors during the cold, terrible Ohio winter outside into our vegetable garden. We had big plans for these seedlings. With our help, they would grow into tall sunflowers, rich aromatic basil, and cherry tomatoes by the fistful for our summertime snacking. We had tiny burgundy kale seedlings, and personal sized sweet melons. We planted them carefully in our richest soil, along the soaker hose so they would get maximum irrigation opportunities.
As we planted, Millie ran around the garden, holding a plastic trowel, and capturing various small crawly things that were too slow to elude her. She took a liking to several earthworms, but became especially enamored with the roly-poly bugs she found throughout our straw mulch. One of these unfortunate invertebrates she named Poopie, and carried him throughout the garden, telling him of all the plants we are growing.
"This is a baby Zinnia," she told him. "It will grow into a beautiful pink flower that I can wear in my hair. Isn't that exciting, Poopie!?"
Poopie showed no enthusiasm.
"These are baby Dill plants, Poopie." Continued Millie, botanist and tour guide.
Poopie remained curled in a ball and unresponsive.
"Millie! It's time to put Poopie down!" I called, as we finished planting.
Millie placed Poopie lovingly down beside the Echinacea patch and said "Bye Poopie! I love you-- see you tomorrow!"
For the next several days, Millie would immediately capture Poopie (or one of his brethren) as soon as we reached the garden. "Hi Poopie!! She would yell into her cupped hands. "It's me! Millie-- did you miss me?"
Poopie seemed to be thriving, but unfortunately, my seedlings were not. The dill was the first to go. Then, the sunflowers, and even my heirloom cherry tomatoes. I thought we had a rabbit getting into the garden. Then, one overcast and drizzly evening, Millie and I went down to the garden to check on our plants.
The first thing we noticed were the slugs. They were everywhere. Disgustingly, Millie and I picked 17 of them off of a single young zucchini plant. It was during this surgical slug removal that I noticed the slugs were not working alone. One of the seedlings was bent to the ground with no less than 15 pill bugs, devouring it. Millie noticed it too. "POOPIE! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" She called out in alarm.
I didn't say anything to Millie at the time, but that's when I decided that POOPIE MUST DIE. We came back into the house and researched the best ways to lay siege on our newly stationed slug garrison. Secretly though, I was also reading about pill bugs. It seems these innocent looking beasts mostly eat decomposing matter, but have been known to assassinate young garden seedlings as well.
Many readers recommended an organic solution called Sluggo Plus. This slug bait also kills pill bugs, by luring them into eating a certain type of delicious mineral, which then blocks up their stomachs and makes them die a slow, painful death beneath the soil. I ordered it with zest, and applied it last Friday when Millie was at school. I asked Sean if he thought I should wait for Millie to put the Sluggo on the garden, to which he replied "You're asking me if we should wait for our 4 year old daughter in order to handle and apply pesticides?" I realized he was right. Besides, she's still too young-- I don't want her to have blood on her hands.
As I'm typing this, Millie is currently singing an epic song about Poopie the pill bug. She does not yet know that he is gone, but I still prefer to think of this song as a funeral dirge. Here are the lyrics:
Poopie was a pill bug,
He lived inside the dirt,
Poopie pooped on a slug,
And then ate him.
I think it's how he would have wanted to be remembered. Rest in peace, sweet Poopie. May the gardens of your isopod heaven be filled with dill seedlings, and completely free of 4 year old girls.