Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sustainable House Day

Today was Sustainable House Day, and houses all around the country were open for inspection. We visited three new homes in the Lal Lal region, to look at things that might work on our block.

This one has some lovely features inside, but is way larger than we need:
I did like their polished concrete floor, which has lots of coloured glass embedded in it:
It looks nicer in real life than in the photo, though.

This one was mainly interesting for their waste-water treatment system:

This one which is still under construction has an interesting worm-farm waste treatment system, which is large enough to dispose of a sheep!
Construction is a mixture of strawbale and weatherboard, with some internal walls made of mudbrick for extra thermal mass:
The third one felt the nicest, although I would put the strawbales under the windows as well, to make window seats. They had one room with windows on two sides that I thought would make a perfect sewing room.

Meanwhile at Lal Lal, where all the trees have been looking green and lush with new growth because of the rain we've had this year, everything has turned brown. It didn't take long to find the culprits:
 Every leaf of every eucalypt seems to have one or more painted cup moth larvae (Doratifera oxleyi) rasping and chomping their way through the green growth. Millions of them on our block and adjacent ones. The smaller larvae chew off the surface layer of the leaf, as in the photo below, and when they have grown larger they can chomp through the full thickness.
 This particular leaf also has a gall of some variety. I've found similar photos, but no-one with an identification of the cause. Here's another leaf with a lot of the galls:
 I presume it is a reaction to some other insect invader. But if you look closely you might notice that there is a cup moth larva at work on the back of this leaf as well. You can just see the tip of it near the bottom on the left-hand side. The larvae have stinging spines that they erect if threatened. Birds don't usually eat them. Some flies and wasps do prey on them, but apparently viral diseases are the main limit on their population.

Apparently the trees will survive unless there are 3-4 successive years of cup moth attack. Some smaller trees where all the leaves are brown are already making a comeback:
Let's hope the trees win in the long run.

1 comment:

  1. We would love to build a home from straw bales and was self sufficient. Great homes. We would also love a garden that provided us with food so that we wouldn't need to go shopping.