Garden Pests

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This page is designed to quickly help identify pests, provide a summery of the damage caused and give a small amount of background infomation.

By clicking the name of the pest you will by taken to another page specific to that subject containing more detail about the pest such as its lifecycle, its periods of damage and how to control It through chemical, cultural and biological means. If you have a pest we have missed or some tips on how to control it please feel free to email or talk to us in the shop and we will add it to this page.

New Feature -- Click a picture to view a full size image and information, scroll through them with the mouse wheel to find what you are after, you can then click the Goto link to jump to their entry!

A/N: This page is largely complete however the specific pages for pests are still untouched. In addition there will be a page aimed at giving a background on pests, such as why if armillaria destroys entire gardens, can it be part of a balanced ecosystem in a native woodland?. If you have tips at dealing with a pest or have one we have missed then please feel free to visit the shop or email us and we will add it to our list! -- Matt

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(Garden) Ants

Ants cause very little direct damage to plants in the garden however they can be troublesome if they enter the house and ant hills may form disturbing a lawn and making it hard to maintain. They may also be a sign of a more serious pest such as aphids which they often farm and protect.

Aphids

See Also:

Woolly Aphid, Blackfly and Whitefly

Aphids are one of the most common garden pests as well as having a significant effect on the horticultural industry. They cause damage by feeding on the sap of plants and are prone to acting as a vector for diseases and bacterial infections.

 

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Blackfly (Black Bean Aphid)

Blackfly are a form of Aphid (Aphid fabae) that is gregarious meaning it feeds in groups. It is a well known pest of beans and peas as well as many other soft plants. Due to its clumping nature it is more damaging over a short period of time however very easy to spot and treat with contact insecticides. Like all aphids they are sap feeders and are potential vectors of disease and bacterial infections.

Treat with Pyrethrum or Thiacloprid.

Black Fungus Fly (Sciarid Fly)

The Sciarid fly is a common sight in the soil of household plants. These pests are tiny black/brown bodied 3-4mm long insects often seen hopping over the soil or slowly flying around. They do very little damage to plants often preferring to feed upon dead organic material such as fungi spores. Young plants and cuttings may be damaged by the larva. This is a pest mainly to cacti and mushrooms.

Treat with Pyrethrum or fly killer

Bean Weevil (Pea and Bean Weevil)

Pea and Bean Weevils are brown or grey in coloration and normally 3-4mm long, detectable by their signature damage of U shaped notches eaten from leaf margins. The larval stage lives in the soil attacking the nitrogen fixing nodules on the roots. Fortunately damage is small and most plants are able to tolerate the damage. Treat young or heavily attacked plants.

There is no suitable treatment for larva but adults may be killed with pyrethrum.

 

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Capsid bug

Capsid bugs are small often green insects about 6mm wide and are sap suckers which attack the young growth of a plant causing sucking damage and injecting a toxic saliva which kills cells in the new shoot. This causes greater damage when the plant grows as the dead areas stretch and tear causing the leaf to be misshapen. The damage is characterised by many small holes and distortion. Plants should be treated as soon as damage or bugs have been detected.

Treat with either Pyrethrum of Thiacloprid

Carrot Fly

Carrot fly is the dominant pest of carrots and other members of the family causing great losses with no chemical or biological control. Fortunately it is easy to mitigate and reduce damage. The fly injects its eggs into the carrot and the damage when lifted is notable when lifted as collapsed tunnels. This enables many diseases such as carrot cancer and reduces storage.

There is no preventative treatments however there are many cultural controls.

Caterpillars Caterpillars are major pests on many plants, the larval form of butterflies and moths, they can be distinguished from maggots by the presence of legs and distinguished from sawflies by their number. They have a wide variety in their form and large distinct heads. Most caterpillars (barring leaf miners) can be treated with a pyrethrum based spray.
Chafer Grubs Chafer grubs come in a wide range of sizes, Cock Chafers often grow to 4cm long. The grubs can damage both lawns and small plants often proving devastating, in addition they are resilient when fully grown to chemicals. The first sign most people see is the sudden wilting of an area of lawn. Further damage may be caused by predators such as magpies and badgers digging up the lawn in search for them.
Codling Moth The damage codling moths cause is largely to the fruit of apple and pear trees via their caterpillar larvae. They are considered by many to be the principal pest of fruit and should be treated preventatively with either hormone traps or providing overwintering habitats to be destroyed.
Crane fly(Leatherjackets) Leatherjackets are the lawn / small shrub feeding larva of the Crane fly (often called daddy longlegs). The Crane fly itself is non-damaging as it either feeds only on nectar or not at all however the larva can be truly devastating to wide swathes of lawn. The best chemical treatment is that of Imidacloprid from Provado lawn grub killer however it is most effective when the pests are young.
Cutworm Cutworms area form of caterpillar the destructive larva of nocturnal moths and can cause great problems both to the stem and roots of the plants. Cutworms consume very little of the plant, often enough to just destroy it. There are no chemical controls available to the casual gardener however some cultural controls may help limit damage.

 

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Flea Beetle This pest is a predator mainly of brassica and plants sharing characteristics with them, They feed by taking small scoops out of the topside of the leaf letting the lower parts dry out and die, although the damage caused by individuals is minor it can quickly escalate and become quite problematic, especially on edible crops. They range widely in colour and are normally 2-3mm in length.

Fungus Gnat (Sciarid Fly)

The Sciarid fly is a common sight in the soil of household plants. These pests are tiny black/brown bodied 3-4mm long insects often seen hopping over the soil or slowly flying around. They do very little damage to plants often, preferring to feed upon dead organic material such as fungi spores. Young plants and cuttings may be damaged by the larva. This is a pest mainly to cacti and mushrooms.

Treat with Pyrethrum or fly killer

 

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Leaf Miner Leaf Miners are specialist forms of caterpillars which instead of devouring the entirety of the leaf burrow into it for protection. This leaves tunnels in the leaf which collapse and may cross major veins causing the entire leaf to fail. Contact insecticides are not effective however systemic chemicals can give some control.
Leatherjackets Leatherjackets are the lawn / small shrub feeding larva of the Crane fly (often called daddy longlegs). The Crane fly itself is non-damaging as it either feeds only on nectar or not at all however the larva can be truly devastating to wide swathes of lawn. The best chemical treatment is that of Imidacloprid from Provado lawn grub killer however it is most effective when the pests are young.
Lily Beetle Lily Beetles are highly attractive in their adult form however both the adult and the less colourful larva are serious pests of both lilies and fritillaria causing great damage to the foliage and often decimating plants where they are common. The best control would be the use of Thiacloprid or Acetamilprid as a systemic insecticide.

 

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Mealy Aphid Mealy Aphid is a pest predominantly of brassica such as cabbage cauliflower and turnip
Mealy Bug Mealy bugs are a form of un-armoured scale insect that secretes a powdery wax protective coating, only the adult female is truly a pest as the males do not feed and the larvae are of minimal impact. The coating helps avoid predators but also protects them from any chemical treatment that is based on contact effects unless it contains a powerful wetting agent. They may cause leaf drop in large concentrations and act as vectors for disease.

Mirids (Capsid Bug)

Capsid bugs are small often green insects about 6mm wide and are sap suckers which attack the young growth of a plant causing sucking damage and injecting a toxic saliva which kills cells in the new shoot. This causes greater damage when the plant grows as the dead areas stretch and tear causing the leaf to be misshapen. The damage is characterised by many small holes and distortion. Plants should be treated as soon as damage or bugs have been detected.

Treat with either Pyrethrum of Thiacloprid

Moles

Moles are incidental pests to a garden, they do not actively destroy plants and the damage caused is very minor when they travel past the roots, however the molehills they create often make mowing a lawn hard and tunnels may require filling in to keep a lawn level.

Products like Biofume candles and mole traps humanely stop moles without killing them however in the case of traps they should be inspected 2-3 times a day as moles starve to death very quickly.

 

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Pea Moth The Pea moth itself is almost un-noticeable as it is both dull coloured and small (at approximately 5mm) and the pods themselves rarely show signs of damage until they are opened. The pea moth is attracted to flowering peas and therefore whilst control using pyrethrum is possible it is not recommended as it will likely have harmful effects on pollinators. The better way to control it is either to grow early or late cultivars, or to grow them under fleece/enviromesh
Pea and Bean Weevil

Pea and Bean Weevils are brown or grey in coloration and normally 3-4mm long, detectable by their signature damage of U shaped notches eaten from leaf margins. The larval stage lives in the soil attacking the nitrogen fixing nodules on the roots. Fortunately damage is small and most plants are able to tolerate the damage. Treat young or heavily attacked plants.

There is no suitable treatment for larva but adults may be killed with pyrethrum.

Peach Potato Aphid Peach Potato Aphid one of the most common forms of aphid and a major pest to potatoes, as with all aphids it can cause both physical damage and act as a vector for viral damage, potentially killing a plant with one attack. It is a frequent carrier of leaf roll and potato virus Y. As with most aphids it produces both winged and wingless forms.
Pigeons Pigeons are a common although not always major pest of many brassica such as cabbage, attacking the leaves and causing significant damage. They have also been known to attack bean and pea flowers.

 

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Red Lily Beetle (Lily Beetle) Lily Beetles are highly attractive in their adult form however both the adult and the less colourful larva are serious pests of both lilies and fritalaria causing great damage to the foliage and often decimating plants where they are common. The best control would be the use of Thiacloprid or Acetamilprid as a systemic insecticide.

Red Spider Mite (Two spotted spider mite)

Spider Mites are a major glasshouse pest and very difficult to control. They are minute at 1mm sizes however they can clearly be seen with a microscope. The first signs of damage is normally a yellow streaking or mottling on leaves and with heavy infestations webbing appears on the underside of leaves. Their vast reproductive rate allows them to develop resistance at incredible speed.

 

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Sawflies Sawflies are similar to caterpillars in form and many of the control measures used against caterpillars may be used against sawfly as well, they differ in that they are the larva of flies rather than lepidoptera and they have 6 legs on the prothorax rather than the 5 or less common to the caterpillar.
Scale Insect Scale Insects are most noticeable as females where they are stationary and and form hard shells from wax where they are protected from many predators. Mealy bugs are one of the few female scale insects to remain mobile after maturity has occurred. Scale insect should be treated with Thiacloprid and the plant checked for honeydew residues.
Sciarid Fly

The Sciarid fly is a common sight in the soil of household plants. These pests are tiny black/brown bodied 3-4mm long insects often seen hopping over the soil or slowly flying around. They do very little damage to plants often preferring to feed upon dead organic material such as fungi spores. Young plants and cuttings may be damaged by the larva. This is a pest mainly to cacti and mushrooms.

Treat with Pyrethrum or fly killer

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails are the bane of the garden, however there are many ways of controlling them such as the use of barriers (wool and copper), chemical control such as pellets and biological control via nematodes. There are significant differences between slugs and snails which alter how they should be dealt with.

Snails are dormant in the cold making them a rare problem in the winter unlike slugs, They often cluster up so by locating groups of them they can be disposed of en mass. They also are less likely to be found in acidic soil due to its lack of lime and therefore ericaceous plants have a natural resistance to them. Nematodes have no effect on them.

Slugs are active throughout the year (although most active in the warm and damp) and are vulnerable to nematode attacks. They are less able to move through dry areas and are often found living in the soil surface rather than hidden in shelter above ground.

 

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Thrips/Thunderflies Thrips are absolutely minute winged pests that puncture the surface of the leaf and drain its contents destroying the cell. The western flower Thrips species are now global and carry many destructive viruses including wilts. As they reproduce so quickly biological control is considered ineffective and they adapt quickly to chemical treatments.
Two Spotted Spider Mite Spider Mites are a major glasshouse pest and very difficult to control. They are minute at 1mm sizes however they can clearly be seen with a microscope. The first signs of damage is normally a yellow streaking or mottling on leaves and with heavy infestations webbing appears on the underside of leaves. Their vast reproductive rate allows them to develop immunity at incredible speed.

 

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Vine Weevil Vine weevil are pests that have acquired an almost legendary status among gardeners for the sudden destruction of container plants and inspire fear unlike any other pest. In reality its is the grub which is most destructive, Small C shaped white grubs attack the roots of plants often causing a sudden wilting and death in the autumn. Vine weevil adults themselves are less damaging and can act as a sign you should be alert for. The adult damage is an irregular C shaped cut taken from the edges of leaves at night and is often tolerable by most plants.

 

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Whitefly Greenhouse Whitefly are among the most rapidly breeding (and therefore rapidly adapting resistance) of all pests in the garden, The high temperature of most greenhouses may mean they can reproduce all year and therefore build up astronomical populations. Unlike green aphids they tend to be highly mobile and can be seen hopping when a plant they were feeding on is disturbed, Often making clouds of white insects. this makes them vulnerable in particular to sticky traps whilst the population is small. As with aphids they attack the phloem and release a toxic saliva whilst potentially acting as vectors (particularly for tomato and bean viruses)
Wireworm (Click Beetle)

Wireworms are the small larva of the Click Beetle (these have many varying features but are distinguishable by the clicking sound they make when uprighting themselves) and are pests of roots and tubers of plants, in particular potatoes, although they also prey on other plants such as leeks.

Infested plants may wilt from root damage but the main complaint a gardener has is often the damage to potatoes and edibles.

Woolly Aphid (flying mouse aphid) The woolly aphid is a sap sucker as with the common garden aphid however it is unusual in that it attacks woody stems rather than soft growth. It secretes a filamentous waxy coating that may be mistaken for a mould and often feeds in damaged areas of the stem such as poorly healed pruning scars. The larva overwinter on trees in crevices in the bark.

 

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