Cloeme a great plant bug catcher

Kapiti Observer - - CONVERSATIONS - BAR­BARA SMITH

PLANT MORE CLEOME

Cleome are one of the best ‘‘catch plants’’ for at­tract­ing green vege bugs away from your beans and toma­toes.

They are tall (around 1.5m), ro­bust flow­ers that don’t seem to be too badly af­fected by the bugs if you pick them off reg­u­larly.

Their botan­i­cal name, Cleome spinosa, gives a warn­ing, so watch out for the prickly stems. The thorns on ma­ture stems can eas­ily pierce a gar­den­ing glove. As well as their bug pa­trol du­ties, cleomes are worth grow­ing for the pink, mauve or white flow­ers as they bloom for months – right through to late au­tumn.

Sow seeds (from Kings Seeds) di­rectly the gar­den or in trays in spring. Grow in full sun or sem­ishade. I plant mine close to­gether (25cm) and let them grow tall and slim at the back of the bor­der. You’ll get more flow­ers on stock­ier plants if they’re planted 50cm apart and you pinch out the grow­ing tips when the seedlings are 6-10cm tall.

The best time for hunt­ing green vege bugs is first thing in the morn­ing when they are slug­gish.

As cold-blooded in­sects they need the heat of the sun in or­der to warm up enough to move quickly.

Knock them into a jar of soapy wa­ter or stomp on them when they land on the ground.

MAKE YOUR OWN DIY FLY TRAP

I know flies have a use­ful role to play in the great cir­cle of life, but I would rather they weren’t cir­cling round my kitchen. The first blowfly of sum­mer buzzed in last week so it’s time to re­fresh the fly traps. A fe­male blowfly can lay 150-200 eggs at a time and around 2,000 eggs over the course of her life­time. Hope­fully, dis­pos­ing of flies in early sum­mer will cut down the num­bers in the com­ing months. For the past two years I’ve used a McGre­gor’s Bye Bye Bugs Fly Trap from Bun­nings. The sup­plied bait is a smelly brew that at­tracts the flies but is non-toxic. The flies can get in the holes in the lid but can’t fly back out. They even­tu­ally die and fall into the liq­uid. The wa­ter level needs top­ping up when it dries out and the traps need to be emp­tied when they start to fill up. When the sup­plied bait ran out, I used a mix­ture of yeast, a lit­tle su­gar and some warm wa­ter. Af­ter a cou­ple of days build­ing up a stink it worked just as well as the com­mer­cial prod­uct. Other ideas for bait in­clude a small piece of meat or rot­ting fruit, and dog or cat poo – if you have a par­tic­u­larly strong stomach! The base of the old trap was cracked but luck­ily the top fit­ted a jam jar so it’s been pressed into ser­vice for an­other year.

I’ve made a cou­ple of new DIY ver­sions too (pic­tured). Cut across a plas­tic fizzy drink bot­tle about one third of the way down from the top. Add the bait of your choice into the bot­tom sec­tion. In­vert the top. Use a hole punch or a heated metal skewer to make holes for a han­dle. Thread fine wire or string through the holes. This col­umn is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get grow­ing, from New Zealand Gar­dener mag­a­zine. For gar­den­ing ad­vice de­liv­ered to your in­box ev­ery Fri­day, sign up for Get Grow­ing at: get­grow­ing.co.nz Hang where flies tend to con­gre­gate – usu­ally in sunny, shel­tered spots – but where the smell won’t bother you or the neigh­bours. Make an­other trap to use in­side. Bait with red wine, fruit juice, ap­ple cider vine­gar or a piece of ba­nana float­ing in wa­ter. Add a drop or two of de­ter­gent and place the trap by the fruit bowl. That cloud of fruit flies hov­er­ing over your ripen­ing fruit will be lured to their doom.

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