The spring so far hasn’t been very springy; it’s been wet and cold. The peaches and nectarines have all come out with really bad leaf curl fungus. Despite this little guy emerging on one of the peaches we don’t hold out much hope for any fruit.
The nectarines are looking really bad, too, after putting out some nice flowers. Actually concerned that they might not survive.
Given that spring is pest season, I’m always a bit alarmed when something new appears in the garden. Apparently these guys are most likely large milkweed bugs, Spilostethus hospes, although there are a bunch of species within Spilostethus and they all have similar markings. They’re all seed-eaters, though, so they’re probably not harming my new buddleias. Looks to be a whole lot of mating going on.
The pear and cherry slugs (Caliroa cerasi) are back out of the ground again for another go at the cherries, pear and quince. Timing is very consistent with last year, so we’re on the job this time to wipe them out before they get out of hand.
One of the pink lady apple trees has apple scab, so any affected leaves are getting snipped off and composted. Hopefully diligence in both cases will go some way to breaking the cycle of these two pests.
The cherry also got a little colony of aphids on the end of one branch. There were ants in the tree, too, so they’re probably an aphid farm for the ants. Wasn’t too worried, because there were a whole bunch of ladybugs having a feast, too. Left them to it.
With spring comes new life of all kinds. Not the least of which is beetles and ants and caterpillars, all hell-bent on having a feed.
Last year the elm leaf beetles wrecked the scotch elm up in the meadow; this year I’ve been doing daily patrols and crushing any I find, and while the leaves have been eaten a little bit, we’ve generally been able to dodge the worst of it.
Forgot to patrol the vege patch though, and just a few caterpillars have had a good go at the kale.
None too impressed. Having Lego time with R, and hear a faint scratching noise. Come upstairs to find this.
This wattle tree died in 2013, and the cockatoos love it. They come in giant flocks just trashing the joint all the way up the valley, on their way to Grant’s where the tourists feed them and have their picture taken. Never mind, that tree will have to come down soon, and they can find something else to chew on.
I’ve read that the only way to control pests is through plant diversity. Some plants will repel pests on their own, others attract beneficial insects and birds.
But what do you do when you’re building a garden from scratch? There is no diversity. There are no trees or bushes to attract the little bug-snapping birds. So every plant that is put into the ground becomes a haven for every pest in sight.
Today’s rude shock came from the Siberian Larch, the Christmas tree from 2013, planted over near the chicken coop. One of the branches looked completely dead, and I thought a bit of bark or a stick falling from the big mountain ash had broken it. But closer inspection revealed that the tree was covered in these little caterpillars.
For crying out loud, give me a break! There were so many, had to get the spray out again.
On the other hand, these two Macleay’s Swallowtail butterflies crashed into me in another part of the garden – they’re quite pretty with the bright green bits and green legs, but no doubt they’re off to make more caterpillars as soon as they can. Terrible photo in bad light.
Spotted the world’s tiniest grasshopper on a parsley leaf the other day and thought “cute!”.
But then, along comes the world’s weirdest-looking caterpillar, eating all the little cherry buds. Looks like a dead leaf rolled up:
Not so cute. Off you go, caterpillar.
And then …
The elm has had its leaves out for about a week now. It didn’t grow too well last year, and was hoping for a bit more action this time around. After the first spring sprout of leaves, the new stems are just starting to push out, and I find this:
Elm leaf beetle, Xanthogaleruca luteola. Hundreds and hundreds of them. They weren’t there yesterday, because I was up there giving the elm some water after a few dry days (and ironically just before an epic storm came through). The leaves were in perfect nick, so no larvae were present. These guys probably flew in.
The entire tree is utterly trashed *sad face*.
I have some bug spray, which has been used just once over the last 2 years. But by golly it came out today.
Word is that an elm can recover from an attack, but this guy is really small and no leaf has remained untouched. Just don’t know how it’s going to do it.