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Jacque Tucker: The soundtrack of Summer

Publish Date
Sun, 26 Feb 2017, 11:00AM

Jacque Tucker: The soundtrack of Summer

Publish Date
Sun, 26 Feb 2017, 11:00AM

Jacque Tucker talks to Andrew Dickens about her love/hate relationship with Cicadas. 


The ultimate summer soundtrack! Some of the NZ native cicadas get well over 90 decibels, others can reach 120.  It’s only the males who make all that racket – they do it when they’re out looking for a partner.   So what impact do they have in the garden? While they live underground they’re sucking away at your plant roots and as adults they drink plant sap, but the real damage is caused when the female lays her eggs in the branches and stems of your trees and shrubs.  They leave a long narrow split along the branch, which weakens it to the point where it may break off. Not much you can do about it -  just enjoy the summer song and hope one doesn’t chirp right next to your ear!


Black crickets are a pain in the neck for gardeners. During the day they hide in cracks in your soil then at night they pop out to find a mate and chew your lawn to bits.  Encourage them to come out during a sunny day where the sun can fry their black bodies – you can hose water into the cracks, or Ruud Kleinpaste recommends water with some dishwashing liquid poured down the cracks.


It’s only the females you can hear, and who want to sink their mouthparts into you. Not a lot of planting you can do to deter them, but you can reduce the population by getting rid of sources of water nearby.  Saucers under pot plants, leaves in guttering, old containers – all breeding grounds. Even bromeliad centres, which you can regularly hose out to help clear away the wrigglers. Got a pond? Let some goldfish dine of any potential biters. You could try a thin layer of vegetable oil on top of a still pond to try and deter them.


What would 7am on a Sunday morning in summer be without the sound of a neighbour cranking up their lawnmower?! This time of year raise your lawnmower blades and leave the grass a little longer. Cut it too short and you could allow a few adventitious weeds to set seed amongst your turf. Leaving it longer will also help your lawn retain moisture – something we all need a little of this time of year!

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