Categories
food insects tree

Lemon and Lime

Hello,

I bought a lemon and a lime tree last year. The Tropical Nursery advised that I plant Nasturtiums around them to prevent aphids. Apparently the insects would rather eat the juicy flowers than bother to climb up the tree. Something has almost destroyed the Nasturtiums, or maybe they are just at the end of their growing period. I have now planted marigold seedlings. The leaves of the trees have been eaten up. And the unusually wet Durban has brought out snails by the million. What to do about them, what to do?

Julia

Categories
flowers insects

Misty Mountain Hop

Hiking and trail running on the Cape is a game of pot luck. One minute the sun is shining, the next you are enveloped in swathes of cold mountain cloud. We recently went running along the Table Mountain contour path towards Devil’s Peak and stopped at the ‘Breakfast Rocks’, normally a great place to have a snack and take in the view. Not this time. We were met with very limited visibility and a bit of drizzle for good measure. We did see some Proteas in bloom though and a huge spider on its web. Anyone know what it is? I have included a high res image of it and a short video of the Armageddon-like¬†clouds. ūüôā

Categories
insects

Parkhurst Prawns

I live down the road from parkhurst in jozi and have found one or two of these bad boys in our garden and home. Initially I freaked out and was quite disgusted by these huge jumping cockroaches and then I wiki’d them…here is the description (good for gardening) – The Parktown prawn aka Parkmore prawn aka Parkhurst prawn, Libanasidus vittatus, is a monotypic species of king cricket found in Southern Africa. Although a member of the cricket order Orthoptera, it is placed in the family Anostostomatidae, separate from that of the true crickets, Gryllidae. The insect gets its English name from the suburbs of Parktown, Parkmore and Parkhurst in Johannesburg, South Africa where they are frequently found. In Angola, it is found in the southern savanna and semi-arid regions, whereas in Namibia it is found throughout the territory. The Parktown prawn is also related to the New Zealand tree weta which is also in the family Anostostomatidae.

A fancied resemblance to a prawn accounts for its name. The Parktown prawn is held in low regard by some, while gardeners value them for controlling garden snail populations and attracting the Hadeda Ibis.

The animal is omnivorous, feeding on a variety of food including snails, and vegetable matter. In urban environments, they will readily take food made available by suburban dwellers, including cat food, and dog food. Adults are usually around 4 centimetres (1.6 in) to 5 cm (2.0 in) in length, with 2 cm (0.79 in) antennae.

So perhaps they don’t really deserve their bad rep after all.

All the best and happy gardening,

Sam

 

Categories
insects sustainability

Honeybee problem nearing a ‚Äėcritical point’

 

Anyone who’s been stung by a bee knows they can inflict an outsized pain for such tiny insects. It makes a strange kind of sense, then, that their demise would create an outsized problem for the food system by placing the more than¬†70 crops¬†they pollinate — from almonds to apples to blueberries — in peril.

Although news about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has died down, commercial beekeepers have  seen average population losses of about 30 percent each year since 2006, said Paul Towers, of the Pesticide Action Network. Towers was one of the organizers of a conference that brought together beekeepers and environmental groups this week to tackle the challenges facing the beekeeping industry and the agricultural economy by proxy.

“We are inching our way toward a critical tipping point,” said Steve Ellis, secretary of the National Honey Bee Advisory Board (NHBAB) and a beekeeper for 35 years. Last year he had so many abnormal bee die-offs that he’ll qualify for disaster relief from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).¬†In addition to continued reports of CCD — a still somewhat mysterious phenomenon in which entire bee colonies literally disappear, alien-abduction style, leaving not even their dead bodies behind — bee populations are suffering poor health in general, and experiencing shorter life spans and diminished vitality. And while parasites, pathogens, and habitat loss can deal blows to bee health, research increasingly points to pesticides as the primary culprit.

“In the industry we believe pesticides play an important

Categories
insects

Stinkbug

Hi I spotted this stink bug on the ginger plant this morning. Does any one know the genus?

Yours in good growing,

Jeannine

earthworm productions