Wednesday, 10 April 2019

A back garden miscellany

I am keeping an anxious eye on our pears for two reasons. The first potential problem concerns pollination. We grow two varieties, Conference and Concorde. In theory they will pollinate each other, but for that to happen, clearly both need to be in flower at the same time. Our Conference is full of blossom.

Our Conference pear is blooming exuberantly. 10 April, 2019
Unfortunately the Concorde flowers are still a few days short of opening.  They may just about overlap and should that happen I'll be helping things along with a very soft brush.

But Concorde is lagging behind. 10 April, 2019
Really there should be no shortage of pollinators. Quite a few bees are about and they are backed up by hoverflies. This Eupeodes corollae may not have the furry body of a bee but research has shown that hoverflies have a useful role in pollinating and if we lose our bees they may become desperately important.

Hoverflies like this Eupeodes corollae are frequent visitors.
10 April, 2019

My other worry is a more serious one. A big proportion of the pear leaves have been attacked by Pear Leaf Blister Mite, Eriophyes pyri. There seems to be no cure for this problem and all I can do is pick off and destroy affected leaves. But that would mean removing, I guess, over half the leaves.

Our Conference pear is under attack! Pear Leaf Blister Mite,
10 April, 2019

The brick wall against which the pears grow is patrolled by zebra spiders, Salticus scenicus. This attractive species will hunt down many insects but I suspect that the mites attacking the pears are far too small to be of interest. And of course they are safe within the pustules - the galls - which they have created.

Most people are familiar with Salticus scenicus.Here it is on our
garage wall. 10 April, 2019

This spider gives its name to the huge family to which it belongs, the Salticidae and so taxonomically I suppose it is rather important: the Salticus of all Salticids.  Salticus zebranus also lives in Britain but it is a west country species and I have never seen one. Salticids are found all over the world with some particularly beautiful ones, Maratus species, known as Peacock Spiders, in Australia. If any reader cares to look for these on the internet they will find it a worthwhile experience.

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