You have probably seen 100s of Millipedes in the last couple of days in your garden and your home in Melbourne. Just after the first heavy rains in Autumn after a long dry Summer, they will be on the move. They will come inside under doors and through cracks as they are attracted to light. They generally live in and feed on organic material such as leaf litter and mulches in the garden. When disturbed they deposit a yellow stinky substance to deter predators. They don’t do much harm other than being annoying. You can try putting down a barrier spray or sticky tape on the bottom of doorways to deter them from coming indoors.
This plant is native to Africa and Europe, but is a widespread weed in Australia and common in wasteland. It is a Spreading shrub that will grow to 6 meters very quickly. It grows as a perennial in warm climates and can be herbaceous in cool climates. Flowers late summer in temperate areas or late in rainy season in tropical zones. The seeds are released explosively, used for producing caster oil, poisonous and can kill if swollen because of the ricin in them.
Are your Brocilli, Cauliflower and Cabbages being eaten in the garden? Most likely it is the caterpillar of the cabbage moth. The white cabbage moth lays its eggs on your plants and when they hatch the caterpillars start feeding on your plants leaving many holes. The caterpillar will then form its cocoon on your plants, then in time out will come the white cabbage moth. You can protect your crops by checking them daily looking on the underside of the leaf and squashing the caterpillars with your fingers. You can also spray them, but be careful what you use, you don’t want to use anything poisonous as you are going to eat these plants. Dipel is the best spray, it is a non-toxic, naturally occurring bacteria known as Bacillus thuringiensis which only kills the caterpillars as they eat. Another way to control cabbage moth is with the plant Barbarea vulgaris known as Land cress, winter cress, Rocket cress or cress, this plant is a great companion plant for Brassicas such as Brocilli and Cabages. The white cabbage butterfly would prefer to lay it’s egg on this rather than the Brocilli you grow to eat yourself. The benefit of this is that this plant is poisonous to the cabbage moth and when the caterpillars hatch and start eating it, the toxicity of the cress kills them. This protects your Brocilli by being a sacrifice plant in your garden.
There is nothing worse than being unable to enjoy your garden because of wasps. You can remove wasps from your garden by finding the nest and placing wasp powder around the entrance, but you must do this when it’s dark to avoid being attacked. If you can’t get wasp dust use ant dust as it’s the same thing, active ingredients being Permethrin.
If you can’t find the nest you can set up a bait station, with a plastic drink bottle. Cut a hole in the side of the bottle, so wasps can get in, place a small amount of meat, dog food or cat food in the bottle then add Ant rid (borax). The wasp will take some meat and ant rid back to the nest to share and kill the wasps.
Hard or soft scale insects are sap sucking insects, that live under a coating sucking sap from leaves and stems. Scale also secrete a honeydew which can grow a fungi on it which looks like soot on foliage and stems.
Scale can be treated by spraying the plant with a horticultural oil which will also stop the sooty mould from forming.
Sooty mould on citrus in photo above.
Praying mantis are great insects to have in the garden, feeding on pest Aphids, caterpillars and even mosquito’s.
The larvae of the Elm leaf beetle can kill all of the foliage on an Elm tree as shown in the photos below. Find out how to control Elm leaf beetle under garden pests, disease and weeds.