Grubs any­one?

Bor­ers that tun­nel through dy­ing wat­tles are a valu­able re­source for the ta­ble or fish hook, writes MAR­TYN ROBIN­SON

Gardening Australia - - BACKYARD VISITORS -

Wat­tles are lovely but tend to be short-lived. Some grow to the height of a small tree and look great for a while, but within a year or two of achiev­ing ma­tu­rity they start to look sick. If you see saw­dust emerg­ing from holes in the trunk, it’s easy to think that bor­ers are killing the tree. In fact, the tree was al­ready dy­ing of old age, and the bor­ers are just sal­vaging the re­mains for their own use. This also presents an op­por­tu­nity, as they are de­li­cious!

The most com­mon borer of large aca­cias in east­ern Aus­tralia is the larva of the poin­ciana longi­corn bee­tle (Agri­anome spini­col­lis). This big bee­tle is able to de­tect dam­aged or dy­ing trees of a num­ber of species, in­clud­ing wat­tles and poin­ciana (Delonix re­gia), and lays its eggs in them. The eggs hatch into creamy-white grubs that feed on the tree as they tun­nel through the trunk, and be­fore they emerge as adult bee­tles.

Th­ese are the most com­monly used of what are loosely grouped as witch­etty grubs in bush food cui­sine. Bush food restau­rants of­ten pay their sup­pli­ers sev­eral dol­lars apiece. Be­ing large, they can be cooked up in a va­ri­ety of ways, or eaten raw if you can’t wait. Also, fresh­wa­ter an­glers hop­ing to catch a nice big golden perch or Mur­ray cod re­gard th­ese as su­pe­rior bait, so tackle shops of­ten stock them. Grubs stay plump and healthy for a cou­ple of weeks when they are stored in con­tain­ers of saw­dust from the dy­ing tree you found them in, and kept in a cool place.

So if you need to re­move a dy­ing wat­tle tree, be care­ful how you cut it up so you can save the grubs for din­ner, or a fish­ing trip!

Mar­tyn gar­dens mainly on Syd­ney’s North­ern Beaches Have you found some­thing in­ter­est­ing in your gar­den? Send us a photo and Mar­tyn will ID it. Email your­say@gar­deningaus­ with ‘Crea­ture’ in the sub­ject line.

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