Your house is on fire, your children all gone

OK, so technically, there hasn’t been any fire here, but this post is about the ladybird children growing into adults, so I decided it still works… sort of…

Meanwhile, the ladybirds were also breeding (and still are). I had the amazing privilege of seeing part of the process of a brand-new ladybird emerging. I even managed to document some of it. The first photo was taken four days before the other two, with the other two taken about twenty minutes apart.Ladybird pupae changing to adult

 

Spotted amber ladybird (Hippodamia variegata)I didn’t see the final colouring of the new beetle - by the time I checked back again it had flown away - but this is a mature one of that type, with some eggs (I don’t know which species) and some more aphids for good measure!

Well, I could go on and on about my ladybirds, but I’ll spare you. There are all sorts of interesting websites that give more information of course.

In case you haven’t worked it out by now, I love ladybirds! :>>

Permalink Saturday, 22 November, 2008 4:26 pm, by Mamma Email , 168 words, Categories: Backyard, Fauna, Insects, Beetles, Ladybird ,

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home

I actually intended to write about this weeks ago. However, there are still some beetles around, so it’s not too late. :D

I’ve had this rhyme running through my head now for weeks, every time I venture into a certain part of the garden. I only remember the first two lines from my childhood, so I’ve used the first one for this post, and I’m saving the second one for the next post. ;D

Transverse ladybirds (Coccinella transversalis) with aphidsI have always been fascinated by ladybirds (or ladybugs, or lady beetles). I think they’re so cute, especially these ones! And then I learned that at least some species (including my favourite) are voracious little predators, and that made them even more fascinating! Some of those particular ladybird species just love eating aphids. And I love that they love eating aphids, because I don’t love having aphids eating my plants. ;)

Minute two-spotted ladybird (Diomus notescens)We have had a lot of aphids on our poor little lemon tree in its pot under the pergola, and while white oil and hand-picking both work, they both have their drawbacks, especially for lazy gardeners like us… but the ladybirds wouldn’t go and do anything either. It wasn’t that they weren’t around; we saw them in the vegetable garden, doing a great job on the aphids there, defending the developing coriander seeds and the other plants that had gone to seed. I tried gently encouraging them, picking them up and placing them on the lemon tree, but they would fly straight off and return to the garden.

Yellow shouldered ladybird (Apolinus lividigaster) - topFinally, I had a brainwave (it took me a while!) DH helped me move the lemon tree, in its pot, to the vege garden. We placed it right next to the popular coriander plant, making sure the leaves of both plants were touching each other, and waited to see what would happen.

I was so excited to find that the ladybirds were quite happy to migrate to the lemon tree while it was in this location, and while I wasn’t forcing them to move. The aphids were rapidly polished off, and the ladybirds seemed pretty happy about the arrangement too.

Potato ladybird (Henosepilachna vigintioctopunctata/vigintisexpunctata)Now, of course, I’m not as fond of the plant-eating ladybirds - at the moment, we have a lot of the kind that love the solanaceae family - but the tomatoes have been holding up pretty well against them, and they seem to prefer the weeds of the family anyway. This is where leaving some weeds as sacrificial plants comes in handy - we just have to make sure we pull them up before they go to seed and spread! They will eat the leaves of other plants too (this one is pictured on a bean plant) but they especially like solanaceae.

Permalink Saturday, 22 November, 2008 4:09 pm, by Mamma Email , 454 words, Categories: Backyard, Fauna, Insects, Beetles, Ladybird ,

Spot the difference

So, as I’ve mentioned, there was another storm last night.

Before (Oct 22) & after (Nov 20)After going to the school, then the shops, then returning home, I went into the back yard to check on the gardens and feed the fish. The neglected pond and bog garden have collected a lot of water, and I started to go through the vegetable garden to look for pesky cane toads in the water (they were attempting to breed in there yesterday). I realised that I couldn’t use the path around the herb spiral. I wonder if you can figure out why…

Can you spot the difference? No, I don’t mean the compost bin in the foreground of the top photo; it hasn’t blown away, DH has moved it to another spot… and I realise it’s a different time of day… and yes, the arrowroot has grown (it’s about a month between photos)… no, no, look a little closer

Vege garden Oct 22Um, yes, cassava trees normally grow vertically! That’s it, there on the right side of the vegetable garden.

 

 

 

 

 

Cassava rootsAnd it’s not really surprising, given the shallow roots, that it finally gave in to the elements - although not as impressive or terrifying as a huge eucalypt!

I’m thinking that maybe it’s time I made the effort to use some in the kitchen.

 

 

Permalink Thursday, 20 November, 2008 2:12 pm, by Mamma Email , 220 words, Categories: Backyard, Flora, Weather ,

Brisbane vs storm season

On Sunday afternoon, a storm described as the worst in 20-odd years in Brisbane caused all sorts of devastation in the north-west suburbs. I won’t bother trying to choose a link - if you don’t get news reports from Queensland, I’m sure all you’ll need to do is websearch “brisbane storm” and you’ll learn more than you’ll ever want to know. It’s been compared to a tornado, but nobody has actually announced that that is what it was. Tornadoes are not common here, definitely not like certain parts of the US, but they do happen. It was only a year ago that a mini-twister tore through the town I grew up in - the main difference being a smaller, sparser population; hence, less obvious destruction. And when I was a baby (and the same town was merely a small village with few residents to witness it) my parents experienced one cutting a path frighteningly close to our house.

We’re a mere 20 km away from the one that just happened, but we only caught a mild edge of the monster. Last night, another storm ripped through Brisbane, causing flash flooding and major headaches for those still trying to mop up from Sunday - some still waiting for assistance with repairing, or at least covering with emergency tarps, what’s left of their houses.

So there was another storm last night. This time there was a lot of rain, but again, we had a mild dose here. When I went to bed around midnight last night, I had looked at the weather radar, and I lay there listening to the thunder and the rain, wondering what we would see in the light of the morning. This morning, we looked out the window upon a glorious clear blue sky, streets washed clean and a freshness in the air. I was so busy getting organised to take DS to school that I really hadn’t thought any more about it until my mum rang to find out how we had fared. She had been hearing reports of flash flooding and more damage. I assured her that we were all just fine. DH even went to work on the north side of the city without any hassles.

I don’t take this for granted. I may not totally love where I live, but I’m definitely thankful that our weather is usually kind to us.

Please spare a thought for those who are still/again cleaning up after these storms.

Permalink Thursday, 20 November, 2008 2:06 pm, by Mamma Email , 411 words, Categories: Weather ,

Progress on the western front

Cleared - western gardenDH was a little disappointed that I left the last garden update at the half-cleared point. I promised him that I was going to continue from the “teaser”, so here are a few more glimpses. This first photo was taken after the last part of that section was cleared and mulched, but as you can see from the foreground, the rubbish hadn’t been cleared from the work area yet. This photo, taken on October 15, is actually two weeks later than the previous post.

Growing - western gardenAnother two weeks on - November 3 - things are greening up, and I’m actually starting to feel enthusiastic (even through the haze of the cold I was fighting off at the time).

The other day, I hacked off a whole bunch of canes from two of our bamboo clumps, with the intention of making a rough lattice-type trellis for the beans to grow on. The original idea was that the corn and sunflowers would be the main supports for the climbing beans, but we didn’t give them enough of a headstart, and the beans have overtaken many of them!

Cutting the bamboo also serves to clear a little of the area they’re planted in, and open up the space a bit. Additionally, it’s making use of our own resources, which is something I’m really interested in doing more of.

Bamboo trellis - western gardenThis photo was taken yesterday, after DH helped out and cut more canes so I could make the structure stronger (the original lattice was a lot looser and spaced further apart). The bamboo is simply pushed into the ground and connected together using a simple “weave”. This photo is also a slightly wider shot of the area than I showed previously. The poor little mango tree in the centre was at the far right of the other photos.

If you look carefully, you’ll notice my obsession with patterns - the bamboo came from two different varieties, so the right-leaning canes are one variety, and the left-leaning another. I was a lot less obsessive about the length and trimming of the canes, as I quite like the “rustic” effect of the mix.

Permalink Monday, 10 November, 2008 10:20 pm, by Mamma Email , 353 words, Categories: Backyard, Flora ,

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