It's all happening in the garden right now. I'm cursing my laziness over winter as we rush to get the new bed along the fence ready for a mass planting of indigenous shrubbery. Really, I should have got moving a month ago. But I guess as someone around here said, the best time to garden is when you actually get out there and do it. Lots of good things are happening in the garden, but the two things I've been thinking about most have been the oxalis and the caterpillars. So the caterpillars, they are eating the gum tree out the front, a two year old dwarf variety Eucalyptus leucoxylon with pink/red flowers that I am yet to see.
When I was surveying the damage with mum, she said oh you will need to spray them with something. Or the tree might die. I thought to myself, maybe I would pick them off. But there are rather a lot of caterpillars. With new ones hatching every day. I started examining the tree every time I went past and as I went about the neighbourhood noticed that nearly every other tree also has patches of brown foliage and little caterpillars. I consulted Ms Google (image search is so handy) and identified them as a skeletoniser caterpillar. Further googling revealed that the moths are poor fliers, they lay their eggs on the lowest available leaves - possibly why my young tree is so infested. Anyway, apart from a spray which sounds horrid, there seems to be not much one can do. And if I spray them they will probably just come back because these caterpillars, they are everywhere. And who knows perhaps the caterpillar is food for another species or feeds into the local ecosystem in a way I couldn't possibly know about? So I'm going to take a similar approach to a neighbour and merely observe the caterpillars. He said that in his experience so far, the trees come back as good as ever once the caterpillars move on. I like that approach and I think it was the way I was heading anyway. Possibly from a combination of indecision, being busy and inertia rather than from a particularly in the moment sense of calm, but whatever. The worst that can happen is that the tree will die and then I will just have to plant another one. And the caterpillars are kind of cute and interesting in a don't touch sort of way.
The other issue I have been having is the yellow oxalis that is everywhere. It's in our yard, in our neighbours yards, down by the creek. When I pull it out, no matter how carefully I dig, I never get every single little bulblet and it always comes back. So again, I've consulted Ms Google and I'm going to try the heavy mulch approach again. And more planting because they seem to like disturbed and vacant soils. Although maybe I'll also try some hot water. More hints here. To be honest, I'm finding the garden pests pretty interesting this year. Maybe the garden is starting to grab hold once again.