The pigeon peas have been swamped with sap sucking bugs over the last six months. After a little research on this incredibly informative Brisbane bug spotting website, the culprit turns out to be Riptortus serripes (so I have hence nicknamed them Ripsnorters for their infamous ability to suck the life out of the pigeon peas). There are hundreds on the poor plants and their juice drinking has led to the bushes becoming susceptible to other pests such as aphids and sooty mould. I can't complain too loudly, however, as my only attempt at keeping the suckers at bay has been to give the bushes a good prune. The recent rainfall has also prompted the pigeon peas to put on new growth and hopefully given them a little more fortitude in fighting off these ferals.
By ignoring these ignoble insects I've unwittingly provided the perfect place to position pods for one of our most popular protective pals: the praying mantis. Please allow me to digress for a moment to tell you the story of how we became friends.
Hubby came in the front door one afternoon having been out in the garden. When he turned to lock the door I noticed a tiny insect clinging to the back of his shirt sleeve. Resisting my immediate instinct to slap him (ermm, I mean squash the insect), I instead took a closer look at this tiny creature rocking back and forth. It pivoted its little triangular head as only praying mantids do and looked at me with innocence and great big eyes as if to say "Oh I was going to ask but he was right there. Thanks for the lift!" Knowing that it wouldn't last long without food, hubby took it back out and lifted it gently onto the lillypilly. He came back inside and was taking his shoes off when I noticed that a little someone had hitched a ride back into the house. Obviously inside was much more appealing. So hubby then had to make the trek back to the tree to drop off his little friend again. It was almost like taking a child to kindy and turning to leave only to find them clinging to your leg. Ever since then whenever we find a little praying mantis in the garden we say hello to our little friend.
Back to the original story, I was delighted to find an egg case (ootheca) from one of these amazing creatures on one of the pigeon peas. On closer inspection while taking some pictures today I found that there was not one but two cases (cue delighted Wallace & Gromit "cheeeese" hands and hopping from foot to foot). Fingers crossed our little friends will soon pull their ninja moves on the sap-suckers.