Sap-suckers and Nibblers!
It’s been a great gardening year so far, bringing a few challenging pests with it.
My cordon duo plum tree has actually recovered from its early in the year aphid attack and although I thought their would be no fruit on one side, but it’s surprised me with an abundance of ripening purple plums. My first harvest and I’m tucking into them before the birds do.
The first predators on the scene to help it were harlequin ladybirds, shortly followed by their offspring. They did a great job, but I haven’t seen either for over a month.
The sap sucking scale insect has had a good year from the tiniest ones found on Euonymus shrubs to the larger white waxy ones on plants like hydrangeas and magnolias. The mild winter and probably the lack of ladybirds and other predators has helped them along to becoming infestations. The Euonymus Scale is harder to spot and often isn’t noticed until the damage is done. So if you have an evergreen euonymus have a closer look into the shrub, better to deal with it before it has time to do real damage.
A new little critter on the scene is the Berberis Sawfly. Its caterpillar like larvae have been nibbling their way up the country for the about fourteen years. They have a voracious appetite for mahonias too, and will soon have your shrubs defoliated in no time. The prickly nature of these shrubs don’t make it easy to pick these little pests off and so spraying would be the best option, but not when the plants are in flower as I’m sure you don’t want to kill any beneficial insects.
This sawfly is a serious pest and will have several generations from May onwards right into autumn, so your berberis won’t get chance to recover. The eggs aren’t easy to see either because they are laid just inside the leaf on the underside and each caterpillar will over winter underground as a chrysalis, emerging as an adult in spring. They didn’t get mine this year, so I’ll watch out for the next!