Sunday, 26 February 2012


I've been experiencing some pest issues lately.

First - grasshoppers are having a feast on my wee little apple trees.

I've never seen the shed skin of a grasshopper before.  Have you?

And from a different angle.

I manage to catch quite a few, then I go up to the chicken coop, call the girls, and give them a real treat!

Then there are the crows.  Not after the eggs this time, but they find the nearly ripe passionfruit before I have a chance.  Pull them off the vine and dig in.

Also damaging the passionfruit are our first FRUIT FLY!  I noticed a mark on one of the fruit in the bowl, and the fact that it was going a bit soft, cut it open and found the delightful wigglers inside.

It is important not to put infested fruit in the compost - as the maggots actually need to burrow into the earth for the next stage of their life-cycle, so you are setting yourself up for disaster.

Instead, I went around the garden picking up all the fallen fruit (some unfortunately have probably already deposited their load of larvae) and putting them in a black plastic bag.  This is now hung on the post of the steps, where it can catch the sun (not that we've seen much the last few days).  This is called solarising.

Solarising the Fruit Fly
I thought they then had to go into the bin - but according to the link above, and this book (which is in my personal library), when the maggots are properly killed off I don't have to waste all that organic matter and can add it to the compost.

Also microwaving, cooking, drowning or freezing (which is what I do to avoid weevils, pantry and clothes moths - yes I put the woollens in the freezer) are supposedly also effective.  I wonder whether fermenting like I do with the invasive weeds before composting them (and using the diluted 'tea' as fertiliser), would work as well?  I guess that would come under drowning.

The chickens haven't been exempt either - or at least their food hasn't.  During the day the crows (yes, them again) have a go mainly at the scraps (though they do wait until the chickens have finished), and the spotted turtle doves go into the coop for the seed.  They are going through it at a rate of knots!

And last night there was a RAT in the coop when I put the chickens to bed!  Too fast for me to tell if it was a native or a feral species.  It was pale to mid grey, not black, obviously larger than a mouse, but only about  1/2 to 2/3 the size of the rats you see in the pet shops.  It ran rather than hopped.  But like I said, it was too fast to see the tail properly (i.e. whether it was scaly or furred).  Either way, it's still eating the chicken's food, and potentially spreading other, even more annoying pests.

The sooner I move the chicken coop into the (old) vege patch, with a rat proof wire mesh underneath, and a bird proof net above, the better.

An ounce of prevention, as they say.


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