Sunday, September 25, 2011

Late frosts and earwigs ruin the first pitchers…

For me at least, the start of any CP season is always mixed. This season is no exception. Canberra has experienced one of its colder winters this year, with two days of near record temperatures (-8*C) and a number of frosts that have come after the Sarracenia had started broken dormancy. The worst hit plants were Sarracenia alata, S. minor and a S. flava.

S_alata_frost damage

Here are some frost damaged S. alata pitchers. This plant came out of dormancy in early July, complete with flowers and pitchers. Many of the smaller pitchers burned off terribly during frosts since, before these ones reached nearly 30 cm and opened.


Here is an example of frost damage in S. minor – note the two browned pitchers at right and compare with a normal developing pitcher at left.


Finally, here is a damaged S. flava var. cuprea. I’m not entirely sure what caused the brown discolouration, but the entire plant has not performed as it did last year. Sure, it flowered, but the pitchers are all deformed and there is no venation or copper hood. Strange.


Also on the hit parade of damaged pitchers is this slug or earwig damaged S. minor. These are the two pitchers that managed to get up despite the frost. The undamaged pitcher at left also lacks the usual number and distribution of windows of this plant.


And finally, here is an earwig decapitated S. flava var. rubricorpora pitcher (normal one at left). Damage to this form of S. flava irritates me the most, as they only produce a very few pitchers in spring. Unfortunately, our block is plagued by earwigs – here is a photo of what they were doing to our celery crop in the vegie patch a week back:


These are introduced European Earwigs (Forficula auricularia). They breed in garden beds under mulch or bark chips (which we need due to the dry summers here). Control options are limited chemically, but you can lay out damp newspaper and collectively dispose of them when they seek shelter. They have previously done a lot more damage to my Sarracenia, but fortunately ant treatments (ant sand) in the greenhouse have also worked to prevent them entering the greenhouse en masse – at least so far!