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Garden Pests: Lupin Aphid, Macrosiphum albifrons

lupin aphid (1)

pictured above: The Lupin aphid or, the Macrosiphum albifrons. 

When I was about 5 or 6, one of the first things I thought myself to do was to get Geraniums to produce roots by simply placing them in a saucer of water. My pocket money, far better spent on compost (and football stickers) once I’d figured that technique out and moved onto propagating Cacti, that in mind, could never afford me the luxury of purchasing rooting powder. Back to the geraniums, their biggest pest was the Aphid; better known to you may be as whitefly or, Trialeurodes vaporariorum to be exact.  Read more

Natural History Museum, Dublin

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I visited The Natural History Museum Friday, 8th October 2010. When I turned to their website yesterday I found these opening lines….

This building is now open again following a major restoration project.

Our exhibitions have changed very little in over a century…..

The second line pretty much summises the musty building interior and the scent and feel about the place.  It’s a nice building but there’s a linger of something more Friedrich Miescher as versus Watson and Crick. Maybe it’s the old glass with what I can only assume is formaldehyde preserving collections. Maybe its the leather that covers those insects at the end of the ground floor to protect them from the light. But then, the oft referred to Dead Zoo, has been collecting deadies since 1792 and has been in the same spot since 1857.

That said it what it is and for some reason I liked it. A lot. It continues….

….The ground floor is dedicated to Irish animals, featuring giant deer skeletons and a variety of mammals, birds and fish. The upper floors of the building were laid out in the 19th Century in a scientific arrangement showing animals by taxonomic group. This scheme demonstrated the diversity of animal life in an evolutionary sequence.

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The first floor is the main reason I went there. I wanted to see the collections of Irish slugs and more… but that sort of thing, in detail. I wanted to see Irish birds, the garden pests, the helpers the bugs, the spiders and the prey. Up close and motionless. And I did. I put in my ear phones and spent maybe two hours there. Entry is free and the art gallery nearby does decent coffee, a necessary for me to ingest regularly.

But there’s a problem. The guys were supposed to get a bag of cash from the boys next door. They didn’t. And for that I’m personally glad. There was talk of a new wing, a coffee shop etc. Lets put this in context,  my Beatles For Sale vinyl, in mono, has a big scratch on it – but I know when and where I need to lift the needle. More importantly I know why the scratch is there…. my own fault for breaking up with her while she was changing to side B. My point, we have history.

I shall continue on – the second floor one can’t get to the upper galleys which would be nice. Some health and safety crapology doctorite decided on that one – and so they remain closed off. A shame, yes, but I’ll settle for it.

For me, I liked loved The Natural History Museum. I can see why a younger mind may be bored senseless. I know the upper of upstairs is closed off. I find it rhetoric that it’s next to Leinster House where the people who run our country make decisions [?] But I personally hope it never gets the funding it was told it would get.

It’s a great place to go, in a beautiful part of Dublin City. Argue all you like regarding upgrades and changes – but similar to, I wish Irelands roads were toll free.

If you do intend go there, watch out for exhibition and event dates if you want some peace and quiet like I did. Also the staff there are amazing, brimmed with information and were more than willing to answer all of the questions I had and point out of pieces of interest they thought I might like.

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In the front lawn is a gentleman called Thomas Heazle Park.

Surgeon-General Thomas Heazle Parke (1857—1893) was an Irish doctor, explorer, soldier and naturalist, born in 1857 at Clogher House in Drumsna, County Leitrim, Ireland, and was brought up in Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim. He graduated from the College of Surgeons in Dublin and was appointed to a post in Ballybay, County Monaghan.

In 1881 he joined the British Army and served in Egypt as a surgeon. Parke fought to Khartoum in relief of General Gordon in 1885.

He became the first Irishman to cross the African continent. During the expedition Parke bought a pygmy girl. They travelled together for over a year and she nursed him through malaria. In the end he was forced to leave her behind because her eyes could not adapt to sunlight after the darkness of the forest.

When Parke returned home he received an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and was awarded gold medals from the British Medical Association and the Royal Geographical Society. Among his published works are My Personal Experiences in Equatorial Africa (published in 1891) and A Guide to Health in Africa. He died in Scotland in 1893 and his coffin was brought back to Ireland and drawn on a gun carriage from the Dublin docks to Broadstone station. He was buried in Drumsna.

On the granite pedestal is a bronze plaque depicting the incident on August 13, 1887 when Parke sucked the poison from an arrow wound in the chest of Capt. William G. Stairs to save his life. He is also commemorated by a bust in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

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View More Images of The Natural History Museum. One is permitted to take photographs, just not with the use of flash.

Opening Hours:

  • Tueesday – Saturday 10am -5pm
  • Sunday 2pm – 5pm
  • Closed Mondays [including Bank Holidays]

UPDATE: 7th January 2011

Whilst I was at the Museum I filled out the comment form. I can’t remember what I said exactly now to be honest. But I just got this email today.

Peter

Thank you for taking the time to fill out a comment card during your visit. To answer your query about access to upper floors, the National Museum of Ireland has prepared a plan to build a new structure beside the Natural History Museum that will include a lift and provide universal access. This was allocated €15M in funding under the National Development Plan but this funding has since been withdrawn and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport is not able to fund the development at present. The structure would allow us to remove any modern intrusions (e.g. the shop) into a separate space and reinforce the Victorian style, allow access to all floors and provide spaces for education and proper visitor services that are sorely needed.

Balcony access is not possible at present due to the lack of emergency exits from these upper levels. The solution, once funded, would have minimal impact on the historic interior. The Natural History Museum Staff are working on virtual access to areas of the museum and its collections that are not physically accessible to all.

I share your disappointment in the lack of access, unfortunately until funding is made available for this work the upper floors will remain out of reach for many visitors. Funding for the National Museum of Ireland is the responsibility of the Minister at the Department of Tourism, Culture & Sport.

Nigel
Mr Nigel T. Monaghan,
Keeper,
Natural History Division,
National Museum of Ireland,
Merrion Street,
Dublin 2,
IRELAND

The Ladybird

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Coccinellidae or ladybirds as we know them are members of the beetle family, generally red with black spots head and antennae and can be anything up to almost half an inch in size. But with over 5,000 species they can also be any colour from yellow to black. The less prettier and often referred to a the mealybug Ladybird cryptolaemus montrouzieri should not be confused with the Coccinella septempunctata or what I should refer to as the common ladybird

The ladybird is most famed in horticultural terms for being predators or the boilogical control of the aphid [whitefly or greenfly] and they really are a gardeners friend. That said if you spoke to my niece Lilly… they are most famed to her because she had a pet ladybird once…. but it ‘flew away‘ 😉

Ladybirds and other garden predators are/ can usually be encouraged easily by having areas of undisturbed ground and also by the introduction of attractive flowers.

I spotted this guy above just sitting pretty whilst clipping some crataegus in the garden yesterday…. 😉



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A Fruit Tree Problem Shared is a Problem…

I have about 20 apple trees in my garden some in groups. Some seperate. One of them was looking particularly bad. I took a closer look….

There are two things that I spot immediately….

fruit-trees-pest and disease

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The scaring [left] can often be confused with the marks of apple sawfly…

….but these markings are actually a result of irregular water supply.

The fruit is quite small/ smaller than the fruits on other trees of same variety and some are out of shape.

The sudden availability of water causes the skins to crack.

This coincides with the time they where planted, the fact that they were containerised before and also that no mulching of any format was used.

The second is the wasps….

fruit-trees-pests ireland wasps

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the wasps…. [vespula spp.] are attracted to the fruits primarly damaged by birds… talk about lazy 😉

The suggested control by some is to find the wasps nest and destroy it.

I just can’t do that. Or you can cover the trusses with nylon/ muslin bags over the fruit before damage begins [?!] As long as its not in the house. There is nothing wrong with the tree. It’s simply the fruit that is gone from it for this year. What I will do it wait until autumn/ winterwhen all the fruit and leaves and wasps are gone and move the tree to a better spot.

A fruit tree problem shared is a problem solved….;) for next year!

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[bio]diverse bats?

a lepidopteran of some kind

a lepidopteran of some kind

biodiversity: n the existence of a wide variety of plants and animals in their natural environments [collins dictionary]

I came home one night [a little the worse!] and saw this fella at my front door. So I took a photo. I thought it was a bat? It’s not. It looks like one. It’s not. But in my research I found Bats are good. Necessary; for plants, for humans – for life. They have a role to play.

I tried to check it out on the Bat Conservation Ireland website, but I found their web information so technical, for me anyway, as an apprentice novice of bats.

What I did find was [yet again & well done] by Dubln City Council. So I telephoned the number and got Mairead Stack [we’d met before], well her voice mail. So I emailed. [Mairead is the biodiversity officer for DCC]. I wanted to find out if it was a bat and what on earth were they good for!

The website pdf says:

The main value is insect control. The common pippistrell can catch up to 3,500 midgets in a night. Bats also serve as indicators of the health of the ecosystem.

God, if we didn’t have bats. Imagine what outside that spotlight would really look like…?!! Mairead also responded [thank you] to my email and informed me that:

It certainly isn’t a bat…. It’s a lepidopteran of some kind (moth).If you go to Bat Conservation Ireland’s website you will find lots of helpful advice and guidance on bats. Also, the DCC Biodiversity Action Plan on www.dublincity.ie lists the 8 species we have in Dublin (there are 10 in Ireland). The main thing re gardens and bats is to grow lots of insect attracting flowers so nectar producing, sweet smelling (especially in evening/night time). Also to have some water feature, again to attract insects on which bats feed, have a mature tree which is forked in which they can roost and put up bat box in the apex of the eaves of your house.

Full credit to DCC and Mairéad. Bulaibh bós in fact. It’s amazing the varying [and most welcome] calls that come in to a landscape & design office [partly the reason why I blog]. But I now know in writing that people shouldn’t be afraid of these chappies – we need them. Now all I need is a picture of a moth bat…