Welcome predators in our garden – preying mantis

Welcome predators in our garden – preying mantis

Wonderful to find a preying mantis. Not sure why a male one came inside so we took it back preying mantis male with wings sitting on a handout in the veggie garden in the New Zealand spinach patch.
Late autumn and the males (which have narrow abdomen compared to the females) grow wings [like this one has].
He is sitting on the back of a hand watching us as we moved him. Then he didn’t want to get off so he was gently encouraged to move on to a leaf.

preying mantis egg case in the space between bricks in a house wall
preying mantis egg case in the space between bricks in a house wall

The females have a much wider, fatter abdomen and lay their eggs into a special case to protect them through the winter. They attach the cases to some protected place and we find them in the spaces between bricks in the house wall.

 

preying mantis baby, new hatched, climbing on bird-netting
preying mantis baby, new hatched, climbing on bird-netting

A preying mantis is so good at eating small pests so we love finding them around and carefully put them where the pest populations are greatest.

These newly hatched baby preying mantis we found climbing up the bird-netting around a garden bed. They were less than 1 cm [1/2 inch] long – so tiny! Yet they are great predators of all tiny pests.

2014-11-30 09.52.22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter frost in our ‘sub-tropical’ climate!

Winter frost in our ‘sub-tropical’ climate!

Frost in Auckland – July 2015 – when the water pipes freeze, thermometer shows less than 0oC;  leaves are  decorated with ice crystals – beauty is there even in weather we are not used to!The 'bright lights' silverbeet, leaves are etched in frosting.The ‘bright lights’ silverbeet, leaves are etched in frosting

The lettuce leaves are etched in frosting.
The lettuce, parsley and rocket leaves are etched in frosting.
The letterbox is decorated with ice crystals - beauty is there even in the weather we are not used to!
The letterbox is decorated with ice crystals
The yacons shriveled and wait until next season to grow again - the tubers are really sweet with the frost.
The yacon leaves shriveled and the tubers underground wait until next season to grow again – the tubers are really sweet with the frost.

Frost sets back many pest species in a garden – chewing and sucking insects, etc.

The worms and soil beneficial life move down in the soil to more even temperatures and wait until spring to return – as do gardeners!

Gorgeous rainbow light beets

Gorgeous rainbow light beets

2014-10-25 15.16.52

We love this type of silver-beet! Rainbow lights [or chard] are gorgeous, vibrant, shining plants in the garden – a real joy to look at.

They also provide homes for predators of pests. Check carefully when picking leaves as there may be preying mantis sheltering under the leaf. Gently encourage it to move nearby to continue its hunt for pests in that area.

Rainbow lights/chard cook really nicely too – softer, and a more delicate flavour than traditional silver-beet varieties.

All varieties of silver beet have high oxalic acid content so we remove it by cooking them in plenty of water then draining it off. Oxalic acid sets as sharp stones (especially relevant for care of kidneys, etc). We eat heaps of silver beet for all its wonderful properties and find a couple of minutes boiling removes the problems and maintains flavour.

[NB: All beets, spinach, NZ spinach contain high levels of oxalic acid so we cook all of them this way. We do not eat them raw].