Bronze-orange bugs are beginning to appear on citrus trees, particularly those with tender, new growth, following the rain. Their characteristic repulsive smell is an indication of their presence.
The young nymphs are initially green, gradually darkening as they get older. When mature, the bronze orange bug is orange-brown or black and about 25mm long.
When disturbed, the bugs orientate themselves so they can squirt an evil-smelling chemical in their attacker’s direction. It stains the skin and can cause a burning sensation if squirted in the eye.
The trees can be sprayed with horticultural spray or, alternatively, the pests can be vacuumed from the leaves.
The bag should then be emptied into a container of boiling water. It is advisable to wear some form of eye protection when dealing with these bugs.
If a branch that has the bugs on it is given a sharp knock, then the bugs will fall to the ground. Treading on them will destroy them.
Allowing the bugs to remain on the tree will lead to disfigurement of the branches and stems and eventually cause part of the tree to die away.
In addition to the beautiful purple displays made by jacaranda trees recently, other trees have been providing a most attractive display in parks, gardens and streets. These trees include; Illawarra flame trees, cape chestnuts and Norfolk Island hibiscus.
A tree that displays a glorious show of colour at this time is the Illawarra flame tree, displaying bright scarlet red flowers. They form quite a spectacular combination when put near purple-flowered jacaranda trees and silky oak trees that can be covered in deep orange flowers.
The Illawarra flame tree, Brachychiton acerifolius is actually a native of Australia. The best know tree of this group would be the kurrajong. Large, leathery green leaves that are maple-like in shape cover the tree.
Flowering is often variable, without any discernible reason. Some seasons only half the tree may be in flower, while other years may have little or no flowers. Because many trees are raised from seed, growth and flowering can be quite variable. Some trees have other coloured flowers, such as shades of pink.
The Illawarra flame tree grows best in warmer situations, in a sunny position. It prefers well-drained fertile soil, with protection from wind and frosts.
The cape chestnut, Calodendrum capense, eventually grows to about 6-7 metres high. It is basically an evergreen tree, although it may lose some leaves in colder areas and is a native of South Africa. Glossy green leaves make an attractive background for the large heads of pale pink to dark mauve flowers that are produced from November through to January.
The flowers feature five narrow, long, thin petals with wavy edges. The colour deepens at the main stem.
A beautiful specimen can be seen on Raymond Terrace Road, near Victoria Street station.
Cape chestnuts can be grown from seed, but flower colour and flowering intensity cannot then be predicted. It may be preferable to buy a grafted specimen as this will guarantee a good flower colour.
They will grow in most areas of Australia, except where mountainous areas where extremes of cold are experienced. A sunny, sheltered position with protection from strong winds and frosts is preferable.
Norfolk Island hibiscus trees (Lagunaria patersonia) are particularly suitable for planting in streets and parks. They are medium to large trees that can reach about 12-20 metres in height. Dense, greyish-green, oval shaped leaves are covered with soft hairs when young.
Flowers vary from pink to mauve, although deeper coloured forms are available. The flowers are followed by brown capsules that contain a number of black seeds.
Trees are tolerant of a range of soils and environmental conditions including salt spray. Young trees may require protection from severe frosts, but once they are established the trees survive well in colder areas, although flowering may be compromised. Well drained soils and sunny positions are ideal.
Cymbidium orchids that have multiplied and now fill their pot will have reduced flowering as they will gradually become starved of nutrients.
Once the plants have been removed from their pot, the old soil should be removed from the roots. Then the plant should be divided into smaller plants, making sure each one has some older shoots as well as one or two strong new shoots that will eventually produce the flower spikes.
Older and damaged roots should be cut from the plant. It is advisable to sterilise the secateurs in between treating plants.