Home' Outdoors : WAs Best Outdoors and Gardens 2009 Contents 88 WA's Best Outdoors & Gardens 2010
Sure, you might not recognise them immediately
-- and it's not like they're going to get up and
introduce themselves -- but anyone who has ever
done a spot of gardening would have come across
these little suckers.
Vampires of the garden world, aphids are soft-
bodied, pear-shaped insects that derive pleasure
in sucking the life out of any plant they come
e wilted, mangled leaves they leave in
their wake are not usually due to their vampiric
tendencies, but are plant diseases the aphids
transmit from tree to tree.
It's not as easy as sticking a stake in the heart of
the queen to get rid of them, though.
Western Australia is like one big aphid
sanctuary: not only do they reproduce best in
warm weather, but most aphids here are female
and able to produce without mating.
If you're under aphid attack, get weeding as
they can play host (I know, it's like Freddy versus
Jason for the garden, but life isn't fair, and at least
aphids haven't mastered the art of killing you in
It might be worth removing your worst affected
plants and focusing on keeping certain plants
watered and healthy.
Ladybirds, hoverflies and lacewings all love an
aphid snack, so encourage them to take residence
by using minimal pesticides.
As far as I'm concerned, caterpillars are the Dannii
Minogue of the insect world. Born ugly ducklings,
they cocoon up and transform into a swan.
A hideous, brain eating swan with pointy teeth,
a lust for blood and an inferiority complex.
Of course, that's because I'm deathly afraid of
moths, butterflies and failed pop careers, but it
pays to note that caterpillars can be troublesome
whether they're flying or crawling.
If leaves are disappearing from under your nose,
it's more than likely you've got a few caterpillar
pals. Devious little grubs, they hide under leaves
feasting on your well-maintained garden.
e Diamond Back (also known as White
Cabbage) moth is probably the most common. In
caterpillar form, they're velvety green and enjoy
ey seal themselves onto the plant in cocoons,
which can be an unwelcome treat if you're eating
from the garden.
According to Spineless by Bronwen Scott, the
sooner you defeat them, the better -- once they're
in the heart of the cabbage or cauliflower, they're
protected from sprays.
Try hand picking them off, and if that proves to
be a job too big, choose a caterpillar specific spray
and target the underside of your leaves.
In moth form, they are the first to take flight in
spring, and also the first to lay their eggs on your
cabbages, starting the whole process over again.
Don't let them go just because you like them
fluttering about your garden, try using pieces of
eggshell among your leaves.
e empty eggshell apparently looks like
another moth, deterring them from your leaves as
they hunt for a less populated plant.
Ah, spiders. Frequenting the nightmares of
children and adults everywhere, these spindly,
crawling, eight-legged beasties have built
themselves a negative reputation over the years,
spiking fear into the hearts of most. Which, all
things considered, is a little unfair.
Might I suggest all arachnids pursue a new PR
agency, perhaps aligning themselves with safer
brands like kittens or puppies?
e truth of the matter is, of all the things you
should weep at in your garden, spiders ain't it.
While we seem to adore cultivating poisonous
attack creatures in Australia, few spiders are
actually harmful. Most are handy helpers, getting
rid of flies, mosquitos and most garden pests we
struggle to defeat.
White-tailed spiders are common biters. While
they don't usually attack unless provoked or
startled; but they don't build webs to catch their
prey, they seek it out.
As well as a lack of tell tale webs, they are pretty
nimble and fancy free; able to climb on slippery
surfaces like glass thanks to specialised hairs on
their legs, possibly why they're responsible for a
relatively large portion of bites.
According to the Department of Agriculture,
the only spider that has proven to be lethal in
Western Australia is the redback. ere has been
an effective antivenene for their bites since 1956,
and no deaths from their bite since 1955.Having
said that, redbacks do love living near humans.
Only the female is considered dangerous to
humans (typical women, ho ho ho) -- you can
identify them by their long, slender front legs and
the red or orange stripe on their abdomen. ey
only usually bite when provoked.
e venom is slow working, resulting in nausea,
headache, hypertension, and in severe cases,
paralysis. at's not to say you should bail them
up and make them your pet -- if you're bitten, seek
medical assistance immediately.
No amount of fancy landscaping can disguise the fact that it's the law of the jungle
Aussie backyard to find that when it's not beating up on itself, you're likely to be next.
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