Olive trees are flowering

Olive trees are flowering

The little round boutons are finally opening into flowers. Botanically, these are described as ‘insignificant’, which is a bit unfair. If there are lots of flowers, the branches look as if they’re covered in snow. The good news is that the weather is set fair for the next couple of weeks, so these flowers stand a decent chance of setting into fruit. Not like last year when a tremendous storm during flowering wiped out the entire crop on the var. Aglandau...
A beautiful caterpillar

A beautiful caterpillar

This magnificent caterpillar of the leafy Spurge Hawk-moth, Hyles euphorbiae, feeds on euphorbias and we’ve masses of those growing wild among the olive trees where we found this one. The Americans wanted to eliminate these spurges because they produce an irritant white sap and are fairly resistant to most weed killers, so they introduced this moth into the USA. It was in fact the first classical biological agent approved for release in the States, in 1965, in Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington. And it was another example of government nonsense because research shows that although this caterpillar is a voracious eater, it has little or no impact on spurge populations. One reason is because Hawk-moth numbers generally remain low in an area due to predation (by mice which eat the pupae) and disease. So, Hyles euphorbiae plays only a very minor role in spurge biological...
Typical Provence Flowers

Typical Provence Flowers

This must be the prettiest time of the year: all the flowers are coming out, the scents are amazing and the weather is warming up. The Philadelphus Coronarius, left, which has the most wonderful smell, was traditionally planted near the doorway or entrance to a courtyard, and the irises, which also have a very subtle but delightful aroma, are found all over Provence at this time of...

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