Q&A

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - LIFE -

Our pro­lific orange tree, said to have been planted in the 1830s, pro­duces de­li­cious, slightly bit­ter fruit each year. Are any other orange trees in Aus­tralia this old? I mulch with straw and sheep ma­nure, and reg­u­larly sprin­kle with citrus fer­tiliser.

Don De­fend­er­fer, Launce­s­ton The nom­i­nal 40-year use­ful life­span ac­corded to or­anges is con­ser­va­tive. A cel­e­brated tree in Europe died in 1898 af­ter 473 years, and oth­ers in France are thriv­ing at 375 years. The Mother Orange in Cal­i­for­nia dates to 1856, and many trees in Florida are still bear­ing com­mer­cially af­ter more than a cen­tury. Orange seeds came to Aus­tralia with the First Fleet and there was a citrus in­dus­try by 1897. Tas­ma­nia’s cli­mate is chal­leng­ing for or­anges and yours is likely to be a Rough Seville. Your care reg­i­men is good. Do read­ers know of other his­toric citrus?

My grand­daugh­ter and I fol­low the life cy­cle of the wan­derer but­ter­fly. What plants will help?

Jan Brammy, Cudlee Creek, SA Orig­i­nally from North Amer­ica, the monarch or wan­derer but­ter­fly is mi­gra­tory and found across Aus­tralia. By feed­ing on the milky, toxic sap of milk­weed or swan plant ( As­cle­pias species), the cater­pil­lars be­come un­palat­able to most preda­tors. Adults feed on nec­tar from asters, this­tles, Bud­dleia and Pen­tas.

Is it true that mil­li­pedes like or­ganic snail bait and that this kills them too?

D. Sin­clair, Ade­laide Baysol is regis­tered to kill snails and mil­li­pedes but is not or­ganic, con­tain­ing me­thio­carb. Iron-based pel­lets such as Mul­ti­guard are safer for pets and wildlife but not regis­tered for mil­li­pedes. Anec­do­tally they work but can’t legally be rec­om­mended. You can also use di­atoma­ceous earth, light traps or ne­ma­todes.

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