Aphids are here to stay

Cabbage aphid parasite enters the colony bottom right

By Denis Crawford

Aphids thrive in warm, moist conditions so they are often the first insect pests that we notice in spring. Most of the aphids that cause problems in Australia are introduced from elsewhere and it’s likely they are here to stay.Continue reading

Pollination at night

An illustration of Darwin’s hawk moth feeding on Angraecum sesquipedale

By Denis Crawford

The value of night pollinating insects has long been overlooked, but recent studies show just how important nocturnal insects are for horticultural production.

Information about crop pollination is nearly always dominated by the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) and how vital that particular insect is to the food that we eat.… Continue reading

New ways to control pests

Why do monarch butterflies feed on dried leaves?

By Denis Crawford

It’s been a while (May 2019) since I wrote about the biochemical arms race being waged between plants and insects, and how some insects co-opt certain plant chemicals for their own purposes. Recent research has uncovered some particularly intriguing adaptations.Continue reading

Serpentine leafminer has arrived

Liriomyza flies are about 2mm long and not easily seen

By Denis Crawford

Serpentine leafminer is an invasive leafminer fly that has spread through many regions of the world and was detected in Australia late last year for the first time.

Serpentine leafminer (Liriomyza huidobrensis) was first detected in Australia in the Sydney basin in October 2020 on field-grown vegetable crops.… Continue reading

The butterfly effect:

By Denis Crawford –

Recent media reports demonstrate how seemingly minor changes can have profound unforeseen effects down the track. A bit like the butterfly effect in chaos theory.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on chaos theory in general, or the butterfly effect in particular, but the way I understand it, the idea centres on how “small, nearly imperceptible changes can have massive implications in complex systems”.… Continue reading

Pesticides – less is more

By Denis Crawford

Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, published in 1962, detailed the impact of pesticides on wildlife. The book was one of the factors which led to the phasing out of DDT. Unfortunately, recent reports show some of the pesticides we use today also have unintended impacts on wildlife.Continue reading