184_3445 Alectryon tomentosus, Hairy alectryon, Hairy Bird's Eye, Sapindaceae with the larvae of Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, mealybug ladybird, Coccinellidae, Coleoptera
Small to medium tree to 15m in all types of rainforest. The largest trees can grow to 18 m with a spreading, fairly open canopy. Can be fast-growing in fertile, moist soils.
Flowers are creamy pink to reddish, small and not showy, May to August.
Tomentosus from Latin tomentosus thickly and evenly covered with hair in reference to the hairy leaves and young shoots.
The fruit is a brown hairy capsule, 1-3 lobed, opening to reveal the red aril and shiny black (seeds). Ripe June - Nov. (It is one of the few rainforest trees to fruit heavily in Winter.) One common name, hairy bird's eye, refers to the shiny black seed exposed In the fleshy red aril. .
The large seed are carried varying distances by birds, but mostly propagate in the vicinity of a large specimen. The adult trees do not supress germination - young trees can be quite thick around the adults. It is a prolific dry rainforest pioneer, extremely hardy and can withstand dry periods and neglect.
The fleshy aril is quite pleasant tasting, though there is not much of it. The seeds are cyanide collectors, so will be toxic. They are unlikely to be dangerous if swallowed whole, but could be if chewed (crushed). Caution is advised.
It occurs in dry and subtropical rainforest north from the Hunter Valley into Queensland.
Cryptolaemus adult & ladybird beetle & larvae eat mealybugs
Cryptolaemus are Australian native ladybird beetles. They are very efficient natural enemies of mealybugs. Cryptolaemus have been exported to many other countries and are recognised as powerful predators of mealybugs worldwide.
The adult beetle is about 4mm long with an orange head and black wing covers. The larvae grow to 13mm long and are covered in waxy filaments. The larvae look very much like mealybugs and are often confused with them. Adult female beetles lay up to ten eggs per day directly into mealybug eggmasses. They can lay up to 500 eggs in total. Adult beetles and young larvae feed on mealybug eggs and young stages. Large cryptolaemus larvae can also consume adult mealybugs. The life cycle takes from 4 to 7 weeks depending on temperature.
In addition to mealybugs, Cryptolaemus will also feed readily on many species of soft scales including black scale, pulvinaria scale and cottony cushion scale.
Native to Queensland & NSW
All mealybugs produce large amounts of honeydew on which sooty moulds grow. They take about four weeks to reach maturity in summer, producing up to 500 eggs in a white woolly egg mass.