18 June 2009
There used to be an advert on the telly for an anti-aging product where one grey hair was highlighted on a woman’s head. While the rest of her bonnet sat beautifully, the one offending strand stuck out, waved about, and generally behaved unusually. I saw something similar first thing this morning on bare soil where calibrese Green Sprouting is inter-planted with dwarf French beans and lettuces. It was a thunderworm.
Thunderworms are so-called because they can be seen in the garden after bouts of rain, looking exactly like single grey hairs which are alive. The one I watched coiled and uncoiled, waved the end I presume is the head (though it is impossible for a layman like me to differentiate) in a sinewy kind of way. Sometimes it would rise up like a charmed snake and dance quite delicately, sometimes it writhed and twisted on the damp soil.
I recall seeing one of these fascinating creatures years ago when mooching around the flower borders with a friend. We were so amazed and curious by our discovery that we did some research and looked it up.
Thunderworms are a species of parasitic roundworm which live inside insects. I’ve read conflicting reports of them being ingested as eggs deposited on leaves and also boring into their soil dwelling host as youngsters. Either way, they remain in their victim until it dies, then emerge and wait for conditions conducive for reproduction. Aint nature incredible?
I have never witnessed such a potentially heavy crop of plums on my Victoria before. This year conditions were perfect for blossoming top fruit at the crucial time. No late frosts to nip them in the bud and plenty of warm sun which brought out the essential pollinating insect hordes. It’s nice when things go right. So far they have.
This is the time of year when the tree will naturally lighten some of the excess load. You can see it happening because certain pieces are a lighter green than others (which are plumper too). The ‘yellowing’ plums have been self pruned in an amazing process called abscission. Essentially, hormones in the tree prompt internal callusing between at the point where the stem attaches to the branch. It’s called the abscission zone and eventually separates the plum, which falls.
I like to get in on the action whenever possible. It helps keep my relationship with the
Tags: abscission, calabrese, calabrese green sprouting, dwarf french beans, frost, garden cross spider, green woodpecker, lettuce, moth, orchard park, parasite, plum, roundworm, spider, thunderworm, victoria plum, yellow underwing