February 21, 2014

The rain – not heavy, but constant light showers – has brought a cover of green to the paddocks, and life back into the struggling trees. The creek is not gushing but trickling a fresh line of life.

The rain has also brought bugs. Moths and butterflies are careering around in a last chance bid to lay their eggs. We inspect the trees and find that the olive’s top branches have been stripped by a massive finger-like green caterpillar that is now motionless, starting to pupate. Neither of us is able to interrupt this cycle of life, and Martin flicks it onto the grass instead.

I’m not so sentimental with the little bugs. The eggplants have managed to survive last week’s wallaby attack only to become infested with metallic flea beetles. They’ve turned the leaves into lace and are now clustering on the purple flowers. We had them last year on the eggplants as well, but not on anything else. Bugs are so specific. The brown spot on the silverbeet doesn’t affect the kale, and the caterpillars that are on the kale don’t touch the rocket or the silverbeet. There is scale on every citrus but not on any other trees. The red mustard has been decimated by something that ignores the zucchini plants in between.

Back to the books. Ignoring the carbaryl again, Jackie French recommends glue spray – her favourite spray – for beetles. It’s easy to make – mix flour with hot water then dilute with cold water and spray. You’d think after years of making custards, white sauces and playdough I could mix water into flour, but I end up with lumps in my glue spray. I strain it and spray it, all over the metallic flea beetles, and all over the pumpkin beetles (not so picky – they’re in the tomatoes now) for good measure. Now sit back and wait for them to die!