Attraction is powerful and part of that is scent - for example, kitchen gardeners might think of basil, fennel, rosemary or lemon verbena.
I always believed that pheromones were a lure between humans but, listening to ABC radio on the evening of January 13, a male researcher from the University of Sydney School of Biological Sciences told the presenter, Nic Healey, that this was a myth.
However, he referred to an observation of adult male milkweed butterflies which scratch live caterpillars then drink from them to bolster their diet and produce mating pheromones.
On January 23, ecologist Dr Suzi Bond from the ANU's Fenner School, led a walk at the Australian National Botanic Gardens to observe butterflies breeding and feeding on plants.
As she explained to me, "Many butterflies engage in courtship before mating, and they use different stimuli (visual, tactile and pheromonal) as part of this. For example, male swallowtails often use pheromones (volatile chemical attractants) dispersed from sex scales or hair-pencils during courtship where the pair of butterflies 'dance' around each other in the air."
"Butterflies provide important pollination and nutrient cycling roles in our gardens. Unfortunately, the introduced cabbage white is attracted to plants from the brassica family to breed on, so it is best to net these plants to prevent damage. Dainty and orchard swallowtail caterpillars will also feed on citrus plants but to my mind, the larval damage is worthwhile as these two butterflies make a beautiful addition to the garden. Flowering garden herbs are a popular nectar source for butterflies."
In an essay in the December 2021 issue of Fronds, the magazine of Friends of the Australian National Botanic Garden, Dr Bond said, "Many Canberra butterflies, along with other insects, employ a mate location strategy known as 'hill-topping' ... where they compete with each other to set up courtship territories and females visit the hilltop sites".
Back on the ABC program and the guest said that the men's fragrance Obsession for Men by Calvin Klein contained pheromones that attracted tigers. In an article from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, Office for Science and Society, Ada McVean reported that the Bronx Zoo compared 23 perfumes' ability to attract tigers' attention. The winner, Obsession, kept the cats concentrating for 11.1 minutes. Read the online report to find out the secret ingredient.
Oscar in the cosmetics department at David Jones in Woden did not have a bottle of the fragrance but offered to spray me with a tester bottle and provide a tiny sample. Then a bottle was purchased at Chemist Warehouse in Fyshwick. When I related the story to the woman in the perfumery at The Pharmacy on Franklin in Manuka, she said "are you off to the zoo?"
Jemma Walsh, customer services manager at the National Zoo and Aquarium said, "We use scents with all our big cats quite often here at the zoo as a form of enrichment. We use this [Obsession] very often with all of our cats, not just tigers."
Lots of us have harvested the current garlic crop. Alan Robertson of Campbell has handfuls of bulbs from his organic plot in O'Connor, a variety from Ingelara Farm bought at EPIC farmers' market did best. Compare them in our photo to the huge bulb of Vietnamese garlic from Lake George Garlic purchased at Jamison markets.
Bob Gardiner of Isabella Plains says his garlic patch is indispensable and it is a rare day that he doesn't cook with garlic. He and partner Roanna Gardiner had a garlic plaiting party with friends in December after harvesting a bumper crop of Monaro Purple from Ingelara Farm at EPIC.
Bob's neighbour and friend, Hai Qing Zhang, an accomplished gardener, has introduced him to pickled garlic which is long-lasting. He has edited the recipe slightly.
Choose unblemished fresh garlic. Peel off the outer skin, leaving only about two layers of skin.
Soak in cold, boiled water for about 24 hours. Some edible salt can be added to remove some bacteria, dirt and spicy taste from the garlic. Remove garlic from the water and dry it. Pour cold water, Chinese mature vinegar, light soy sauce, caster sugar and salt into the pot. Taste it and remember that this is an art as well as a science. Proportions are to your taste. Boil, then cool the mixture. Put the clean dry garlic into clean glass containers. Pour the cooled sauce over it and soak thoroughly. Pour in (about a glug) of strong alcohol (eg vodka or, like Hai Qing, a powerful Chinese spirit) to sterilise the garlic and prolong its shelf life. Use it for any other type of garlic.
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