Flies around fruit bowl

Drosophila-wikipedia Column 8 in today’s Sydney Morning Herald stated that Sydneysiders’ kitchens have been infested by fruit flies, stating that, “They emerge from fruit and hang around all summer”. The flies referred to are not fruit flies, they are the very small vinegar or ferment flies (Drosophila). Genuine fruit flies are kept out by fly screens. Vinegar flies emerge from fruit, tomatoes, etc. as grubs (larvae) and require pupation outside the fruit in order to complete their life cycle as a fly. If these tiny pests are a persistent problem, there must be a breeding ground nearby or the kitchen needs more regular cleaning.
Vinegar flies are attracted to the smell of yeast in fermenting organic materials and drains. To eliminate the problem:

  • Do not keep fruit at room temperature in warm, humid weather
  • Cover compost and garbage containers
  • Regularly rinse out garbage containers
  • Rinse beer and wine containers before recycling
  • and treat drains with an enzyme product to break down thick scum where they can feed and reproduce.

Genuine fruit flies, the Mediterranean Fruit Fly (Ceratitis capitata) and Queensland Fruit Fly (Dacus tryoni) cause a lot of destruction in gardens. They require pupation in soil after the maggots emerge from fruit. To reduce the problem of genuine fruit flies, collect all fallen fruit, put it in a sealed black garbage bag and leave the bag in the sun for three or four days to cook the larvae (and encourage your neighbours to do the same). Never put infected fruit in the compost container.

Koalas – help please

joeypouchesIFAW has been astonished by the most generous response to their call for koala mittens and now have more than sufficient for current needs.
If you would still like to help injured animals, they are in need of
pouches for orphaned joeys that can be made from old cotton or flannelette sheets.

Completed pouches can be mailed to: IFAW at 6 Belmore Street, Surry Hills 2010

01_6_15_koala2_0
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is asking for volunteers to make mittens for koalas that suffer from burnt paws during bushfires. We have already had some devastating bushfires this year and the bushfire season is just beginning.

The mittens are easy to make from old cotton pillowcases or sheets (cotton breathes, polycotton doesn’t), and some leftover wool for ties. Burnt paws are bandaged and the mittens go over the bandages. Raw edges of the mittens stay on the outside of the mittens so that the koalas’ claws don’t catch on any loose threads. They need a lot of mittens as each koala has four paws and the mittens have to be changed daily.
If you can help our little native animals with this project, thank you very much.

Bees welcome

Beelvdr2 Although we do not use pesticides, in recent years we have noticed fewer bees in our garden. In response we have set up a hive under a white mulberry tree, and added a ‘bee garden’ in a corner of our vege patch. I’ve planted a short hedge of French Lavender (Lavandula dentata) that flowers from late autumn to mid spring, when few other flowers bloom. I’ve also added some Borage (Borago officinalis) as a treat for bees, and some Manuka shrubs (Leptospermum scoparium) to add its healing benefits to our honey.
The decline in bee numbers has become a global problem, with the United States losing  45 per cent of their bees and Europe has 13 million less bee colonies. It is a very serious problem because many of the foods we eat depend on bee pollination to produce crops or seed. If bee numbers continue to decline you can forget about having honey, the cost of manual pollination of crops would be exorbitant and many foods will become a luxury (See list below). Colony Collapse Disorder is the most puzzling aspect of this decline, where bees leave their hives and just disappear over winter.
In the past, CCD has been blamed on diseases, mites, poor nutrition, or Manuka Shrubpesticides, particularly the neurotoxic neonicotinoids. Last year, research at Harvard University found that long exposure to small amounts of two neonicotinoids (imidacloprid and clothianidin) are the likely cause of CCD. The European Union has already banned the use of three neonicotinoids, Unfortunately, Australia, that lags behind Europe in environmental issues, still allows the use of these pesticides.

TO ENCOURAGE BEES TO YOUR GARDEN:

Borage They need clean water, pollen and nectar. Keep a shallow container of clean water (e.g. birdbath) in your garden, and choose shrubs and annuals that flower in different months to provide a continuous supply of pollen and nectar. Both native bees and honey bees love our native shrubs. And, don’t use pesticides that harm bees. Read labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) carefully before use. Your garden will benefit greatly from the presence of these tiny, hard-working creatures.

Common foods that need bees to produce, fruits, nuts, vegetables and seed
Apple, Apricot, Blueberry, Boysenberry, Cherry, All Citrus, Cranberry, Cucumber, Currants, Custard Apple, Elderberry, Feijoa, Gooseberry, Grapes, Guavas, Kiwifruit, Melons, Nectarine, Papaya, Passionfruit, Pawpaw, Peach, Pear, Persimmon, Plum, Pomegranate, Quince, Raspberry, Starfruit, Strawberry, Almond, Brazil, Cashew, Chestnut, Coconut, Hazelnut, Macadamia, Walnut, Marrows, Okra, Pumpkin, Squash, Zucchini.
Common foods that need bees to produce seed
Beetroot, Broad bean, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Buckwheat, Cabbages, Canola, Caraway, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, Chinese vegetables, Clover, Coriander, Cotton, Cowpea, Dill, Fennel, Linseed, Lucerne, Mustard, Nasturtium, Onions, Parsley, Parsnip, Pigeon pea, Radish, Rocket, Scarlet runner, Sesame, Silverbeet, Turnip.

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/harvard-study-links-pesticides-to-colony-collapse-disorder-2014-5
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/08/uk-food-security-honeybees

False spring

cloche Chilly days and nights after a brief period of perfect gardening weather occur every year in many parts of Australia. Australia is the only place where spring is said to start on the first day of September. Everywhere else, spring starts at the equinox when day and night are of equal length. This year, the spring equinox occurs on September 23rd.
Unfortunately, Australia’s deviation from world-wide practice tricks some gardeners into planting out seedlings while nights are still longer than days and soil is still too cold for root growth of warmth-loving plants. The problem can be solved by placing this simple cloche over beds that contain cold-sensitive seedlings. See: Cloche for seedlings.

Microbats

Microbat This odd little character often hangs out on our front verandah. He is one of the many species of microbat found in Australia and is 6 cm long when he is all tucked up and asleep. The reason he is odd is that he is always alone, eschewing the company of the colony of microbats we see dashing between the tree tops at dusk, and he sleeps on our verandah at night when bats normally forage for food.

Microbats are very helpful in the garden as they consume a huge quantity of mosquitos, moths and other insect pests. If you are fortunate enough to have a colony of microbats on your property, please avoid using chemical pesticides.

Windy weather update

Transpiratiion Predictions are for more cold, windy weather on the way. Keep a close watch on your garden as wind can dry out soils faster than summer heat, resulting in cell collapse of soft tissue plants. To discover why this happens and how to protect your plants, see: Windy weather
Seedlings and many vegetable crops are vulnerable to wind damage in winter and early spring. Ripening citrus are also easily damaged by strong winds.

Animal cruelty laws

batteryhens I was very concerned this morning to read that under the newly proposed Australian ‘ag-gag’ laws, so called ‘agri-terrorists’ could be punished more harshly than those who commit the violence on animals.
Big corporate farming interests want to do everything they can to gag animal cruelty activists. They know that when consumers are reminded of how harshly animals are treated in factory farms, they demand change — which eats into company profits.
Barnaby Joyce’s proposed law is a classic case of “shooting the messenger”, rather than actually tackling the problem of abuse in factory farming. In the absence of strong independent checks, campaigners often provide some of the only scrutiny of standards of animal welfare.
We should be passing laws to treat all our farm animals with compassion and respect, not gagging those who draw attention to serious abuse. And if enough of us speak out now, we can push the government to drop this unpopular law.
Please sign the petition to “Scrap the ‘Ag-gag’ laws”.

Jeans recall alert

ABC News – jeans recall

ABC News – jeans

Jeans are very popular gardening and fashion attire for both adults and children, and I thought I would share this important news item with you.

This morning, ABC News reported that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recalled 121,000 items from Target, Myers, Just Jeans, Rivers and Trade Secret because of the presence of certain azo dyes, including benzidine dyes that are known carcinogens. Benzidine has been linked to both bladder and pancreatic cancers. The recalls include garments for adults and children, and the ACCC has stated that further recalls are possible in coming weeks.

Customers can return recalled items for a full refund. See: List of recalled brands.

The ACCC states that the hazardous dyes can be absorbed through the skin if the products are worn for long periods in sweaty conditions, yet Australia has no regulations restricting the use of these dyes. Azo dyes were banned by the European Union in 2003.

If you are concerned about the lack of Australian regulation regarding these dyes, please take a minute or two to express your concerns to the relevant Minister, the Hon. Bruce Billson MP, (03) 9781 2333, or at B.Billson.MP@aph.gov.au

Ref.: ABC News – Cancer jean risk

Chemical review petition

Chemreview
Regular reviews of agricultural chemicals are essential to protect public health and safety. Gene Ethics has alerted the public to an alarming proposal by our Agriculture Minister and how you can voice your disapproval.

The federal government wants to remove a scheme that would ensure that pesticides used in farming are safe according to today’s regulatory and scientific standards.

There are currently dozens of pesticides available for use in Australia that have never been properly tested here, including some that have been removed from use in other countries.

Consumers deserve to have confidence that pesticides don’t pose risks to our health or the environment.
The re-registration scheme isn’t about stopping farmers using safe pesticides. It’s about ensuring these pesticides are safe in the first place.

Please sign Choice’s petition telling Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to retain the pesticides re-approval and re-registration scheme!
https://choice.good.do/toxic-reform/sign-the-petition-3/