PESTS in the garden can try the patience of any gardener! Here are the main ones that attack the plants in my garden.
The info I’ve included is just from my own experience…I’m not a trained horticulturalist. All you need to know is at your fingertips on the Internet or, ofcourse, at your local garden centre!
SLUGS and SNAILS…
of wet weather they can decimate all the new growth on many plants. There are a multitude of way to help control them…They do have natural predators such as frogs, hedgehogs and ground beetles-all gardeners friends!
These are slug eggs, often laid by the adult in the base of potted plants. It pays to keep an eye out for these and destroy them. Just think of all the new slugs that you are preventing!!
Slug pellets…which are subject to controversy due to the possible effect on wildlife like hedgehogs,thrushes and pets. If you want to use them, try placing them under something flat so nothing else can eat them.
Copper tape and bands are very effective- I use these and have seen them in action! They DO work.Beware of plants growing across and forming a bridge.
Other barriers like crushed egg shells or grit that they cannot move over.
Go out after dark with a torch to collect them ‘in action’ and do whatever you like with them-this definitely makes a difference to the reducing the population. Throwing them over the neighbour’s gardens is not supposed to work as they reputedly ‘home’ back…I can’t comment on this as I don’t do it!
Check underneath pots and anything left around which makes a nice sleeping place for them in the day.
VINE WEEVILS….are a menace! All the plants I sell are protected against them with an additive in the compost.
Signs of their presence are notched leaves (eaten by the adults) and wilting/dying plants due to the larvae eating the roots. They can be in the ground but most often prefer pot plants-especially fuchsias, heucheras, primulas to name but a few.The adults are flightless and walk /climb proficiently, laying their eggs into the compost.
The larvae that hatch out have 2 stages…a grub with a brown head and a 10mm pre-pupal stage.
- There are a selection of treatments available against vine weevils including biological ones such as nematodes. Provado is to be recommended- it’s a liquid which is used as a drench and is readily available from garden centres.
APHIDS…just love new succulent growth where they tap into the sap.
They reproduce at an astonishing rate and can severely damage plants if not noticed. They can be controlled by sprays if you don’t mind using them or other methods like a washing up liquid solution sprayed on. They also have a few natural predators such as ladybirds and their larvae. Also hoverfly larvae and lacewings! It’s interesting too, to see lines of ants going up and down the plant to ‘milk’ the ants of their honeydew like a little herd of cows!
LADYBIRDS are the gardeners friend-they consume aphids and other pests such as scale insects. They lay hundreds of eggs among colonies of aphids so the larvae can start feeding as soon as they hatch and in their short 3-6 life they may eat up to 5000 aphids!!
Don’t kill ladybird larvae (above)-they are a gardeners friend! 🙂
LILY BEETLES fly onto my lilies in May. They are easy to spot being bright red!
Much better to remove adults or eggs before you’re faced with them- but beware- the beetles can drop off the leaf if they feel you approaching through vibration in the ground, landing upside down for camouflage.Their colleagues will do the same whilst you’re dealing with the first one!
…can be a nuisance in paving on the patio or when they decide to make themselves cosy in pots and tubs. I have had particular trouble with them in the big pots containing acers which I like to position round the pond. They cause a real problem to the plant when their nest in the pot becomes large enough to turn the compost around the plants’ roots into powder so no water can get into the roots. There is no other solution except to turn the pot out and I normally immerse the plant into water to drown the ants out. Then re-pot in fresh compost. It will help standing the pot on little feet or whatever to raise them off the ground, but the ants will soon return. Chemicals can’t be used close to the pond and I would only use them as a very last resort anyway. If you find a plant is looking sick in the border, it’s worth having a close look because ants will often be the culprit there too.
….are tiny moth-like insects which feed on plant sap and cause yellow disfigured leaves. The whitefly secrete sticky honeydew deposits as they feed which falls on surrounding foliage. This causes a dark sooty mould to develop.
Whitefly have plenty of natural predators such as ladybirds, lacewing larvae and hoverflies.
Using chemicals will decimate all the good guys amongst the garden insects, so it’s much better to try and control whitefly with a natural fatty acid or soap based product which are readily available from the shops in a spray form. It’s a good idea to keep a regular eye on your plants and try and spray at the first signs before infestation really gets a grip!
…Winding trails on leaves signal the presence of the larva of a small fly which feed just under the leaf surface. Certain species of leaf miner flies are specific to certain different plants.
Easily seen, it’s best to try and treat before the plant is badly affected. Pinch off affected leaves and bin/burn them-do not compost.
Alternatively, control with a systemic pesticide. It’s also possible to control leaf miners naturally with a wasp called Diglyphus isaea.