Monday, April 4, 2011

larvae maria!

The beast with two backs has bred! I wasn't sure at the time, whether I had actually caught the lady beetle inflagrante or if it was simply one rude beetle trampling over another but now with the help of wikipedia, I am sure. The fuzzy yellow sausage on the left is the larva which changes skins four times before pupation occurs. Four times! Basically, the skin doesn't grow with the beetle, so the old skin splits and a new larger skin is revealed beneath. If only my battles with dress size was so easily resolved. And unlike many insects, the larvae do not have the protection of a cocoon as they go into the pupate stage. I had been perplexed by this process as the newly revealed beetles seem to have especially soft, almost dull shells. It is though only time and exposure to air will harden them up. I tried to capture this delicate stage in the image on the left but for once, the iPhone camera has let me down.

Thanks to for this delightful image.

I have been so excited to see the next generation of lady beetles emerge in Magic Garden. Not only are they fun to watch with little kids, they do a marvellous job of helping to keep the aphid and scale population in check. Plus, they are simply gorgeous little spots of colour. Though if you check the site below, you'll see that many species of lady beetle are actually grey or brown or black. What fascinating creatures they are!

On one of our frequent lady beetle inspections, divine miss C and I uncovered this bobbydazzler of a zucchini turned marrow. I was sure it'd be rotten on the underside considering just how wet it's been but no, this marrow was intact and ready to eat. Thanks to Stephanie Alexander for the handy marrow scale of measurement (somehow a matchbox just wouldn't cut it!) and also for her spag bog recipe, which in a very pleasing instance of serendipity, I had made a batch of the day before. I do love a spot of freezer stockpiling and long for the day when I have a more freezer real estate.

It's easy when you cook in a solarium...

Voila! Marrow stuffed with Bolognaise! As I already had the spag bog sorted, this dinner was as easy as slicing the marrow and scooping out the seedy centre. I mixed the seedy goodness back into the bolognaise and then whacked it back into the marrow boat. Husbando grated some cheese over the top and we popped it in the oven at around 180 degrees C. 45 minutes later, the marrow was soft with the bolognaise's oily goodness and we served it up with garlic bread and broccoli. Delicious and even tastier for having used the marrow.


  1. those yellow 'ladybirds' aren't your friend, you know. They eat mildew, in the process, spreading it all over your zuccchini, pumpkin and cucumber leaves. My dad assures me that there's no aphid gobbling for the lellow critters, however cute they may look.
    I was tres disappointed when I found this sad fact out...
    Looks like the mildew has not affected your zucs too much though; that is a fine and impressive marrow specimen if ever I saw one. Here at the Magicless Garden, unlike the last house's uber-fertile productions, our growing season has been a pathetic affair due to an over-abundance of already-existing shady sub-tropical plantings and lanky overgrown imports (gum trees -grrrr!) shadowing the old garden site. Next summer we will move it...
    In the meantime... looking forward to seeing how the magic garden has come along next time we're over x S

  2. Tres disappointed indeed! How rude! Wikipedia certainly didn't mention that fact, only that the parent beetles sometimes lay infertile eggs close by so that the larvae have something immediate to eat. Surely this counts as cannibalism?

    Hope you're feeling better, Carth mentioned a stay in hospital?
    x k