Have you noticed swollen bronze-coloured aphids on your plants? These are aphid ‘mummies’ caused by the parasitic wasp Aphidius of the wasp family Braconidae. There are several species of Aphidius which have been released in Australia. A species that has established well and is common in urban gardens is Aphidius rosae, a successful parasite of the rose aphid Macrosiphum rosae.
Aphidius wasps are shiny black, slender insects about 3 mm in length with long antennae. The diminutive size of these wasps makes it hard to see them in gardens, but you will see the results of their life cycle within aphids. Adult female wasps lay their eggs singly inside adult aphids and aphid nymphs. To accomplish this a female wasp must bend her abdomen under her legs and inject an egg into the aphid with her ovipositor (‘stinger’). If you were watching and you blinked, you would miss it, as this operation takes less than a second. Obviously I don’t have many images like this one.
Continue reading Revenge of the Mummy
Mosquitoes are real party poopers. Just when you are relaxing with a cool drink after a hard day at work, the bloodsuckers arrive and ruin everything. There are over 300 species of mosquitoes in Australia and they occur wherever there is enough standing water for their larvae to survive. Sometimes that’s not a lot of water either. For example, mosquitoes can breed in saucers and trays under pot plants if they remain full of water.
Many gardeners have installed rainwater tanks to supplement their watering needs. All that water is a magnet to mosquitoes. Keep them out by covering all entry points in tanks with fine mesh. If mosquitoes slip through and lay eggs, drop a teaspoon of domestic kerosene on top of the water to prevent mosquito larvae from breathing (seek further advice from your State Health Department).
Some mosquito species are more than just annoying, they can carry serious human diseases such as Dengue Fever, encephalitis and Ross River virus, and heartworm disease in dogs. Fortunately malaria is no longer endemic in Australia, but we do have the Anopheles mosquitoes which are capable of carrying and transmitting malaria.
Continue reading Night of the Bloodsuckers (Part 1)
© 2015 Denis Crawford
Did you know green scarab beetles turn blue when they die? You can see this on the video at 0:42.
See my earlier post below for further detail on green scarab beetles.