Garden Friends and Foes – what’s that?

I’ve always had “what the…?” moments in my garden and struggled to get information to explain what is it that I am seeing. Here I plan to document some of my findings progressively.  Check back if you’re interested in knowing what those random nests and larvae are in your garden.

LACEWING EGGS – These little threads with white tips are lacewing eggs. The larvae that hatch from these will hungrily devour scale and aphids! In my garden I frequently find the eggs on my pegs so I simply remove  the peg from the washing line and attach it to a plant with pests. This peg is on a Burdekin Plum Tree that has a scale infestation. Last year one peg on a Tuckeroo cleared up an entire scale population in one week. If they hatch and there’s no prey in sight they will devour each other so it’s best to get the eggs as close to the pests as possible.  If the eggs are brown it means that they’ve already hatched. Verdict: Garden Friends!
Close up of the tiny threads and eggs.
Lacewing eggs on the pegs again!
An adult Lacewing.

This is Cottony Cushion Scale. Some kind folk on a Facebook – what bug is that? page helped me to identify it. Unfortunately it’s not good news. These guys are sap suckers that weaken and sometimes kill trees. Pretty impressive for something only a few millimetres long. This one was on my Lemon Myrtle so I will be keeping an eye out for possible infestation.  Hopefully one of the predator bugs that I encourage will have already taken care of the problem.  My bird visitors often sit in that tree so they may have picked it off… fingers crossed.  Otherwise I will be removing infected growth and manually exterminating the bugs. I can’t risk chemical control that may impact on the biodiversity that I am trying to encourage. Verdict: Garden Foe!
This caterpillar (Theretra celata) goes through at least two stages of development  (instars) before going into the soil to metamorphose into a Hawk Moth. It is pictured here on a Native Mulberry Tree (Pipturus argenteus). Another instar of the same species is pictured below.
Another instar of the Hawk Moth (Theretra celata) caterpillar pictured above on the same Native Mulberry Tree (Pipturus argenteus).
This is a Black-banded Hoverfly (Episyrphus viridaureus) harvesting pollen from a Cut-leaf Daisy (Brachyscome multifida). These flies mimic wasps and bees, but have no sting. They are often seen hovering in one spot before darting sideways or forwards. Their larvae are effective aphid predators sometimes used commercially to protect crops from infestation.  The adults feed on nectar and pollen favourite open daisy-like flowers. They are effective pollinators. They are particularly susceptible to pesticides so don’t spray your aphids if you see these or any of their Hoverfly cousins in the garden.  Verdict: garden friends!

This is another Lacewing.  It is a larger species, known as Blue Eyes Lacewing (Nymphes myrmeleonoides).  The body is up to 4cm long and wingspan can be up to 11cm.  They are predators who eat soft bodied insects as well as nectar from flowering plants.

The larvae live on the ground and create pit traps in dirt or leaf litter for their prey which includes caterpillars,  thrips and other soft bodied insects. They inject a venom and suck out the insides before impaling the carcass on a spike on their backs.

The eggs are laid in a horseshoe shape and consist of long threads with each oval shaped egg positioned at a 90 degree angle to the one before it. If I find some I will add them to this post!

Verdict: Garden Friends

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: