Garden pests – what’s really there?

I’m quite active in my garden these days, mainly because I’m retired and have the time, but also because a year or so ago I was given seeds and later I had my landscape done and planted many, many new plants. Now, my garden – both landscape plants and planter boxes – is thriving, but so are the pests! Everyday I seem to encounter a new microscopic creature has taken root (or leaf or flower or ..) in my garden! How can this be – how do they find these plants so quickly? My tomatoes have black leaf fungus, my peach tree has leaf curl, my chives have aphids and my sunflowers have something I can’t figure out. These manifested by chewing the leaves voraciously – one day a small notch, the next day, several chunks! Something was quickly eating the leaves and the only thing I could see were ants. I read up on it – and found that the ants are not the eaters – they are looking for the product of the eaters: sap from aphids. I couldn’t see aphids anywhere! But then I brought a piece in and checked under my foldscope:

the microscopic critter on my sunflower leaf.

Turns out maybe there are larva there? – I assume aphid larva, as suggested by several articles on the internet – but I couldn’t see anything until I looked microscopically. The ants knew, though!

My next problem came up on my pittosporum. They look quite lush from afar, but when you look up close, there are small black rings on the leaves. Again, no idea of what could have been causing this – it doesn’t look healthy but who knows. I have other types of pittosporum in the yard, but those are fine – just this one type has this issue.

Pulled out the trusty foldscope and here’s what I saw:

The purple parts are what make the rings on the leaf – the color is quite beautiful under the microscope!

I have no idea what this is – anyone? It looks a lot like a fungus found on leaves of other plants. I’m guessing it’s not good, though.

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