Archive for April, 2012

Pear leaf blister mite

April 30, 2012 1 comment

I gave the orchard its petal-fall or fruit-set spraying this morning and of course, not having rained for several days, it decided to rain 2 hours later. Typical.

Leaves (and fruit?) affected by blister mites

While spraying I noticed that one of the pear trees was looking poorly. I looked on the internet and am inclined to think it has blister mites.

These mites are microscopic and they overwinter under the bud scales ready to emerge in the spring. They suck sap from the leaves and secrete chemicals which cause the blisters.

Apparently there’s no product currently available to amateurs for treating the pest. The main remedy is to remove the affected leaves unless the tree is heavily infested (as in this case) when it could do more harm than good. 

Apparently it doesn’t mean there won’t be fruit, although I’ve noticed that the little fruit in the photo has something wrong with it, too.

The photo below is of another part of the tree – possibly worse affected still.

More leaves affected by the blister mites


April 29, 2012 Leave a comment

This tick was taken off the dogs and was still alive when the photo was taken (here very much enlarged).

We do treat the dogs (they’re due for treatment tomorrow) which is probably why it hadn’t attached by the time I found it.

I believe there used to be sheep in the field where they pick them up, and ticks can survive a long time without a host.

The second photo (of a different tick) is less clear but next to an appropriate word on the sheet of paper. They run quite fast so it’s difficult to ‘organise’ them!

Butterfly egg

April 28, 2012 1 comment

Swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on fennel which (in the case of the wild variety, which is what we have) is considered an invasive weed.

Fortunately for the swallowtail butterfly scanning our flowerbed just now, my fennel clean-up has been far from complete.

I saw it batting its wings rapidly with its ovipositor poised over one particular plant and then went to have a look.

Sure enough, there was a tiny yellow egg attached to one of the leaves.

Swallowtail butterfly egg

The caterpillars are quite charming: I hope I see one later on. The photos below are from previous years.

Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar

Swallowtail butterfly on a zinnia


April 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Marigold or calendula

At long last we’re getting some nice weather – bright and hot. This marigold epitomises it!

Lady orchids

April 26, 2012 1 comment

Lady orchids

There’s a particular spot  in the olive grove which always has loads of these robust orchids.

When I went to take my photograph, I had to be very careful to choose a moment when the dogs were distracted elsewhere, otherwise they would charge in to join me and break all the flower spikes.

The lady orchid is supposedly so named because the individual flowers look like a lady in regency dress and bonnet.

There’s another orchid called the ‘naked man’ orchid for reasons that are obvious when you look at it. Its scientific name is ‘orchis italica’, and sometimes it’s called the ‘Italian man’ orchid!