Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Insect Update

A while back I mentioned problems I was having with aphids and earwigs. Thankfully, there is positive news to report on both fronts.

I hope I am not speaking to soon when I say that the aphids appear to be a distant memory. Various factors may have been at work: October and November provided very wet and very hot weeks; the garlic planted alongside has sprouted, and I have seen (but am not quick enough to photograph) plenty of hoverflies hovering (as they do), which Scarecrow's Blog suggests is a quick aphid-removal system. Good riddance. And ne'er a ladybird was spotted.

Since the arrival of the mushroom compost, the earwigs seem to either be busy eating said compost, or (I would cruelly like to hope) were gassed by the copious amount of methane it exuded. The passionfruits are finally managing to produce a few weeny shoots which may make it beyond the tasting menu stage, and although the lower leaves of the climbing beans have been chomped to skeletons, so far it seems they are growing faster than the earwigs can climb. This is all a relief, as my attempts at earwig reduction have been dismal. Beer traps caught one or two, crumpled paper traps were the same and oil traps scored nil. The prize for worst attempt was a "pest strip" which caught no earwigs, but did catch a small lizard, of a sort I'd never seen in the garden, which left me feeling very low about my ecological credentials. (Enough said.) My best option seemed to be the gruesome hunt'n'squish by torchlight (gloved to avoid the pincers). Scarecrow also suggests that small lengths of poly tubing will attract the blighters, so I will start leaving them around sites of infestation in the hopes of keeping a lid on their numbers.

Also on the positive front, a couple of weeks ago, I spotted this clinging to one of the boys' toys: a half-centimetre long baby (?) praying mantis! I hope it's here with its friends and family.

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