Posted by: flat_bob | August 22, 2008

Le Bien, La Mal

Allotmenteering, like many things, involves the interplay between good and bad. I’ve previously written about the frogs, toads and newts that share my soil. These, of course, represent the good. They feed on the pests that want to eat my plants so are always a welcome sight. I’ve seen so many mini frogs over the last month or so, so I’ve been careful of where I’ve been stepping!

The rain is good, of course. It makes the plants grow large and saves me from having to water. However, the rain has it’s bad points. The moist, warm conditions that this summer has provided have been ideal for slugs and snails. Slugs, of course, represent the bad. And despite the good work that my amphibians have been doing, the slugs are beginning to win.

This bad boy (Arion ater) lives on top of my wheel barrow. I keep my barrow hidden under tarpaulin, which is clearly the ideal conditions for slugs and snails, as whenever the wheelbarrow comes out to work it is covered in these slimy pests.

I don’t mind a few slugs at this time of year. After all, the frogs and toads need to eat and the birds do too. Any hedgehogs would love these fellas. So I’m not going to try and kill these. They can have their chances in the wild part of the allotment. Bad they may be, but they make good food for my four legged friends.

The same cannot be said for these bad lads…

The whole allotment site has been a haze of cabbage white butterflies (Pieris rapae) for the last couple of weeks. It was inevitable that they would lay their eggs on my cabbages and their caterpillars (the green one in the photo) would begin to take that which is rightfully mine. They are bad, with no redeeming features. The big brown caterpillar in the photo is from the cabbage moth (Mamestra brassicae). You can see from the size of him how bad he is for the plant. Find out more about brassica pest control here.

So it looks like I’ll be on caterpillar watch for the next couple of weeks. I’ve not had a bad year for pests, what with the rabbit fence and the lack of pigeons (I think someone has had the air rifle out again!), so I can’t complain.

But I’ll not surrender the cabbage crop; they’re too good to lose.

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