Caterpillar Season

Pam pic

Pam Jacob – Driefontein Garden Centre


Sometimes we have to eat our words and I had to do just that when we had dinner with our dear friend, Jane, this past Friday evening.  You see, she has this magnificent Pigeon Wood (Trema orientalis) tree right outside her patio and in full view of her bedroom, where she can awaken each morning to the multitude of birds that are attracted to this tree.  Known as a pioneer tree, I have always been of the opinion that it self-sows all over the show (which it does!) and is possibly best taken out due to a relatively short lifespan, but if you have the space to leave it, it will turn into a smallish tree that will attract birds and butterflies and give you great joy.

While on the subject of trees, this is the season for caterpillars to appear on specific plants that act as hosts to certain butterflies, but we won’t go into a Biology lesson. Suffice it to say that Xylotheca kraussiana (African Dog Rose), Cape Ash (Ekebergia capense) and the wonderful Halleria lucida (Tree Fuschia) might just be covered in caterpillars.  Please, please, please leave these insects alone to do what God meant them to do.  Please don’t apply any insecticides or poisons.  They will attract insect eating birds; possibly de-foliate your tree completely and there will be a great burst of new growth come spring.  This is how we are environmentally friendly.  Not whether we plant Indigenous or Exotic plants but how we look after what we have and use poisons as little as possible.

We are continually asked about moles and how to get rid of them.  Firstly, they are protected by law.  Most products you buy off the shelf are made from Garlic extracts so you might possibly go along to your local Veggie supplier and buy a tub of garlic, make a strong brew and pour this over the mole infested area and pray that it works.  There is a `bomb’ available that is so highly toxic, I would never use it.  An alternative is to get a Dachshund or Jack Russell that will have a marvellous time digging up your lawn and catching the little fellow.  Aeration is always good!!!!

Can you plant at this time of the year?  Absolutely.  It is proven that autumn is possibly the very best time of the year to plant your trees and shrubs as they have time to settle before spring arrives.  Not to mention the large range of seedlings – flower, veggie and herb – that are on the shelves, just waiting for a place in your garden.  So come along to the Nursery, where you will get expert advice and a charming staff just waiting to be of assistance to you.  And if you don’t have a garden – well come and enjoy ours!!

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