Each year the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) announces its ‘Top Ten’ pests for the previous year based on enquiries received by their Entomology department and it is great to see how many we can help control naturally. For the 2nd year running slugs and snails topped the list. Last year was the second wettest year in the last hundred years, so pests that like damp conditions like slugs and snails flourished. Mosquitoes also did well, because of the plentiful supply of water i.e. in temporary pools and wet soil, which provided the ideal breeding sites.
The wet weather & below average temperatures did bring some good news – the conditions reduced the successful mating and development of some pests, as well as restricting their movement. Pests, such as horse chestnut leaf-mining moth, euonymus scale and viburnum beetle, were noticeably less troublesome last summer. Aphids and scale insects, are susceptible to fungal infections that can spread rapidly in wet conditions, so last summers weather mean’t these pest were less of a problem.
Top 10 pests in 2012
1. Slugs and snails - The no.1 problem in gardens and on allotments. The wet summer provided ideal conditions for these pests. Most damage occurs during spring to autumn, affecting seedlings, many ornamental plants and vegetables – especially potato tubers, hostas and narcissus flowers. Green Gardener says – Apply Nemaslug NOW to control slugs naturally. CLICK HERE to find out more.
2. Cushion scale - This sap-sucking insect occurs on evergreen shrubs, especially camellia, holly, rhododendron, Trachelospermum and Euonymus japonicus. It excretes honeydew and infested plants develop a thick black coating of sooty mould on their foliage over the winter months. Green Gardener says – Apply nematodes as soon as it is warm enough. CLICK HERE to find out more.
3. Vine weevil - The adult beetles eat notches in the leaf margins of a wide range of herbaceous plants and shrubs. The larvae feed on plant roots, especially those being grown in pots or other containers and they are one of the few pests capable of killing plants. Green Gardener says – apply Nemasys Vine Weevil Killer NOW to control vine weevil naturally. CLICK HERE to find out more.
4. Ants - They cause little direct damage to plants, but the soil excavated from their nests can be a nuisance in lawns, on patios and in flower beds. Green Gardener says - Use Nemasys No Ants to control ants from mid May onwards. CLICK HERE to find out more.
5. Mealy bugs - This sap-sucking insect that attacks many plants grown in houses, glasshouses and conservatories. They infest leaf axils, covering the plant in white waxy secretions and they are very difficult to control with pesticides. Green Gardener says – use a combination of SB Invigorator and Cryptolaemus to control Mealybug. CLICK HERE to find out more.
6. Soft scale - A sap-sucking pest found on the stems and foliage of many plants, especially Citrus, bay trees, Ficus and Schefflera. Honeydew excreted by the insect causes the foliage to become stick PLUS sooty mould often develops on this honeydew. Green Gardener says – Apply nematodes as soon as it is warm enough. CLICK HERE to find out more.
7. Woolly aphid - Mainly a pest of apples. The clusters of aphids are covered in white waxy filaments secreted by the insects. Their feeding can induce lumpy swellings in the bark of their host plants. Green Gardener says – Spray with winter wash NOW and then release ladybird larvae in May. CLICK HERE to find out more about winter wash and then CLICK HERE to find out about releasing Ladybird Larvae.
8. Cypress aphid - Die-back of conifer hedges of Leyland cypress, Cupressus, Chamaecyparis and Thuya species has various causes, including infestation by
cypress aphid. This pest sucks sap from the stems resulting in large sections of a hedge becoming brown. Green Gardener says – we thought this one would be higher up the list but we suspect people fo not realise what is turning their hedges brown. Release ladybird larvae into the hedge in May and repair the brown patches with “Get it Green” spray. CLICK HERE to find out more about Get it Green Spray and then CLICK HERE to find out about releasing Ladybird Larvae.
9. Fuchsia Gall Mite - This pest infests the shoot tips and flower buds of fuchsias, causing gross distortion and preventing the normal development of foliage and flowers. Green Gardener says – we do not have a natural answer to this pest yet – sorry.
10. Lily beetle - This bright red beetle (and the larvae) feed on the foliage of lilies (Lilium species and hybrids) and fritillaries. The plants become defoliated, resulting in a lack of flowers in the following year. Green Gardener says – Use Lily Beetle spray, sprayed directly onto the beetles and larvae to keep them under control. CLICK HERE to find out more.
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