Backyard Buddies

Photo: Michael Jefferies

B-mail September 2018

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Even though Dainty Swallowtail Butterflies are small in size, the caterpillars protect themselves from predators by extending a bright red-orange forked organ from behind their heads. This emits strong chemicals that smell of citrus, which is surprisingly effective at frightening any predators. After the caterpillars grow and create a pupa, they often don’t emerge as butterflies until this time of year. If you’d like to attract these butterflies to your garden, consider planting Native Finger Lime, Native Lime or Desert Lime as the caterpillars simply love citrus! Read more...

Luminous Lacewings


Lacewings have golden, metallic eyes and transparent wings, but what is particularly noteworthy is that its larvae have earnt a reputation as excellent pest control. Although being a vivid and almost neon green, upon hatching they use small spines on their back to impale their prey. Nectar and pollen will help entice these insects into your garden but you’ll have to know about their clever method of disguise in order to successfully spot them as they start working their way into our gardens in October. Read more...
Beware - this fellow is a dangerous pest!

The Diaphania indica or Cucumber Moth is a little moth native to southern Asia but it’s become a very widespread species and now occurs in many tropical and subtropical regions around the world. It is occasionally a significant pest of cucurbit crops like cucumbers and pumpkins. The young caterpillars of Cucumber Moths eat skeletonized leaves and chlorophyll, or the stuff that makes leaves green. Older caterpillars will often fold the leaves that they are feeding on and stitch them together, making a safe haven made of their dinner. Young and old caterpillars of this annoying little moth are known for their love of feasting on flowers, new shoots and fruits of cucumbers. Despite appearing to have a pom-pom attached to its rear end, the dull greys and browns of the Cucumber Moth allow for concealment but may make it difficult to find a mate in the large and potentially dangerous world. When female moths actively seek mates, they wave their pom-poms around in the air and spread chemical messages called pheromones. Although active populations occur throughout the year, they tend to peak between April and September, so be sure to keep an eye out for them this month. 

Long Live The Silky Oaks!


The Silky Oak is a popular native tree in Australian gardens which can grow to 20 metres and live for up to 100 years! This could be due to their exceptional ability to adapt to different climates and soil types, and also to tolerate drought and frost. In spring, their yellow-orange bottle brush flowers are full of nectar and attract an amazing variety of birds, possums and insects. The flower heads are made up of around 100 small flowers, attracting honeyeaters for the nectar and lorikeets for the seeds. Read more...