Garden Pests and Diseases

It’s nearly the end of May, and garden pests and diseases are rife!

Red Lily Beetle (pictured above):

A crafty blighter  –  you go to pick it off your prized lily and it drops to the ground invisible!  They land upside down blending into the soil,perfect camouflage!  The answer is to out smart them, place a hand with a piece of paper towel under the leaves, tap the plant and catch them. Don’t forget the ones that hide in the growing tip of the plant. I’m sorry but the best way to eradicate them is to place on the path and use your shoe.

Greenfly/ Black fly or Aphids:

Common Aphid Infestation

Common Aphid Infestation

Plenty around to say the least. Please don’t spray insecticides willy nilly. Masses of birds and insects feed on them. All the Tit family-blue, great, coal, long-tailed etc feed their babies on green fly/blackfly and so do House sparrows with flies and caterpillars. Trim off the curled ends of new growth on fruit trees with secateurs – keep sharp and clean. Do the same with broad beans.  Hosing down plants with water on a fine jet also works well – not so powerful to damage the plants and flowers.

I watched bumblebees climbing into curled up leaves on my cordon apple trees, they were sucking the sap ingested by the aphids – this is mainly sugars and water, which are excreted as a sticky substance called honeydew. This was something I hadn’t seen before! Ladybirds and their grubs love eating aphids as well as lacewing larvae.

Ladybug and flower on a green background


Organic insecticides based on fatty acids,rape seed oil or based on pyrethrum work on the aphids.

Slugs and Snails:

Slug and snail

Slug and snail

The perennial problem. Let me know what works for you.  Do you leave them for hedgehogs, frogs and toads?  Do you use soot, copper tape, salt, beer traps, slug gone, sluggo, slug pellets, pick them up and put them in a bucket or nematodes?

The best way is prevention. Covering your valuable seedlings with fine netting called enviromesh. This prevents cabbage white butterflies, moths and beetles getting at your plants.

What other bugs are troubling you? Vine weevil?

Let me know, by leaving me a comment below ….


Peter Mills
Gardening Editor

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Peter has spent his life gardening, working in garden centres and advising in all aspects of gardening, wildlife, and bio-diversity in horticulture.He managed Clandon Park Garden Centre in Surrey at the age of 23 and was a gardening radio presenter with the BBC. This continued for 15 years, running live broadcasts from Chelsea & Hampton Court Flower shows, South of England & Surrey County shows.Now self-employed, Peter works on a wide variety of gardens from private to large estates and also concentrating on consultancy and advisory work to fellow gardeners. He works with the RHS Gardening Advice team at Chelsea, Hampton Court, Wisley Flower shows and is an RHS External Gardening Advisor

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