Friday, 5 August 2011

Wildlife in the Oca, Friend or Foe?

I was initially alarmed by this chap...
...(and several of his mates) browsing amongst my Oca. I watched for a few minutes, and noted that they left the Oca plants untouched, but laid waste to surrounding weeds - a situation that suited me fine. Obviously they qualified as good-guys, and there would be no need for a messy manual squashing session.
It seems it's the caterpillar of the Cinnabar moth. Some research revealed that they are used as a biological control of their favorite food plants, ragwort and groundsel. Apparently after consuming all available ragwort and groundsel in the area, they may become cannibalistic. I do appreciate workmen that tidy up afterwards!

With some Oca flowering, I've been scrutinising stylar arrangements...
... and have noticed a lot of these tiny thrips or thunderbugs in the flowers. They suck sap from plant cells, and are considered a pest. It's possible that they could spread viruses, but on the other hand they may provide some pollination even though they seem disinclined to fly much between flowers. On balance I prefer to leave them be.

These hoverflies are much more energetic pollen stirrers ...
... and given the compatible flower types available at the moment, I'd better start keeping my eyes peeled for fertile seed pods.

Surely this will be the year!