12 July 2009

Richard's Garden

Planted broccoli (5 plants).

Broccoli Claret
Cabbage white butterflies frequently lay eggs on the sprouts and broccoli. There are two types in the UK, large white and small white. The caterpillars of the large white are green, yellow and black; the caterpillars of the small white are all green. The small white caterpillars seem to leave many small holes in a leaf, whereas the large white caterpillars will chomp all of the leaf right down to the stalk. The butterflies of the small white lays single egs scattered over the back side of the leaf. The large white, however, lays hexagonal clusters of yellow eggs (60 or so in a cluster). If all of the eggs in a cluster hatches then the chances are that the entire plant will be eaten. I usually rub off the eggs before they can hatch into caterpillars. If they do hatch into caterpillars then I will try to pick them off before they do too much damage, but it is difficult to make sure that I get every one.

The sprouts have been outside for two months which means they are too large to use a barrier to prevent the butterflies laying eggs. The only option with them is to rub off the eggs as they appear. The row of broccoli I planted today are small, so I covered them with fine mesh chicken wire. The holes in the wire are too small for the butterflies to get through. Usually I cover young broccoli plants with agricultural fleece, but I don't have any to hand today. 

The photo above is a small cluster of eggs taken using an smc Pentax-M MACRO 1:5/50mm lens and 32mm of extension tubes. The camera and plant were both hand held.

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(c) 2009 Richard Grimes