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Category: Pests, Problems and Health

Pests, infections, disease, cultivation and growing problems

Lawn Grub Problems and Controls

Lawn Grub Problems and Controls

Grubs of the daddy long legs or species of Tipula attract birds to peck at your lawn. More importantly nthe feast on the roots of your turf.


Grub Problems on Lawns

  • Leatherjackets  are larvae or grubs of the  Crane Fly or Daddy Long Legs as they are more commonly known.
  • Leatherjackets live for one year from eggs laid in September, eating there way through winter
  • The fully grown Larvae are grey brown maggots up to 4 cm in length and have grown that size by eating the roots of your grass.
  • Leatherjacket problems can be recognised when your lawn starts thinning and going bare.
  • During dry spells in summer the grass may go yellow-brown caused by the grubby eating habits.
  • The less common larvae of Chafer Beetles  live for 3 years in the soil but the effect can be the same as Daddy Long Legs grubs. They are creamy white, C-shaped with brown heads and look similar to vine weevil.

Prevention And Control

  • Chemical insecticides have been banned by EEC for garden use against these grubs.
  • On a wet day cover the lawn overnight with some black plastic . When you remove it the next morning the grubs will be on the surface to feed the birds.
  • Nematode products utilise natural predators such as nematodes, lady-bird and lace-wing larvae that break the life-cycle of the pest. These solutions boost the number of natural predators and have no detrimental effect upon the lawn.

Book CoverNematodes from Amazon

Earwigs – Forficula auricularia Problems & Control

Earwigs – Forficula auricularia Problems & Control

Earwig O

Earwigs look worse than the bites they take out of plants. Some years there may be large infestations.

Earwig Problems

  • Whilst Clematis, Dahlia and Chrysanthemum plants may be a bit chewed  and ragged by an earwig they will not come to great harm unless you are growing show blooms.
  • Larger infestations  can strip the soft green parts to a network of veins.
  • Earwigs eat large irregular holes in the leaves and petals can be damaged by droppings.
  • Earwigs feed their newly hatched young on aphids and other small insects.
  • During the day earwigs hide amongst the petals. The leaves of Dahlias can be ravaged by
  • Earwigs do not bite or spread disease.

Earwig Control

  • To catch these night feeders use a torch.
  • The inverted plant pot on a cane method with the pot filled with straw or well crumpled newspaper will act as a trap. You can then collect the earwigs for destruction.
  • Birds, frogs and toads that prey on earwigs will help reduce the population of earwigs and keep it under control.
  • Chemical controls such as permethrin should be applied at dusk on warm evenings. Treat the leaves blooms and the  soil below the plants.
  • Prevention by removing moisture and decaying vegetation will make conditions less hospitable for earwigs.



Woodlice Problems and Control

Woodlice Problems and Control

Book Cover


Woodlice are generally seen as scavengers who eat rotting matter, they are not thought of as harmful to the garden. However, they do chew leaves and stems of tomatoes and cucumber in the greenhouse. They are not true insects but a species of crustacean.

Seedlings can be  eaten by woodlice before the seedlings become established. They can eat stems and leaves so woodlice are best destroyed.

Control and Problems

  • Woodlice and millipedes can be controlled using ant and insects powders historically Methiocarb with HCH lindane
  • Keep areas clear of any debris
  • Recycle woodlice you capture on to the compost heap.
  • Squishing and squashing woodlice is a common cure.
  • Woodlice like damp dark places with a source of rotting wood to lay their eggs.
  • Woodlice are unsightly particularly if they invaded the home where they like damp and rotting wood.


Methiocarb  is a molluscicide and insecticide for control of slugs, snails and many other pests. In 2014 the EU banned Methiocarb poison-baited pellets  due to their hazardous effect on grain-eating farm birds

Nippon Woodlice Killer based on permethrin

Wasps Problems and Control

Wasps Problems and Control

I thought this was meant to be a bird box but the wasps thought differently.


Wasps are a large and diverse group of insects with tens of thousands of  species including Hornets, Yellow Jackets and solitary wasps. Some social wasps live together in a nest with an egg-laying queen but the greater numbers are solitary species.

Wasps like munching on ripen fruit Plums, Pears and Apples. They are not the main villain as they only attack fruit that is already damaged by birds or other insects. Their mouths are not usually strong enough to break the skin.

Grapes can be susceptible to damage but bunches of fruit can be wrapped in muslin or old nylons.

Wasp Control and Problems

  • Control wasps by destroying their nests with carbaryl dust.(see below)
  • The sting of a wasp is how they catch some of there food prey.  In late summer  humans may get stung as wasps start to mate for the following year. Wasps may sting more than once if people come close to them but the pain is less than that of most bees.
  • Wasp nests made from chewed wood pulp and saliva can be found in roof spaces, under eaves or in bird boxes  but are not generally a serious problem.
  • Wasps are predators and parasites so  can help in a garden as the larvae feed on aphids and caterpillars. Wasps are major pollinators in the UK and around the world.

Gall Wasps

Cynipids can form a variety of gall on Oak tree leaves, stems and roots. Some years the galls can be very numerous but no serious harm will be done and no control is required. The underside of leaves may get rust brown spangle galls or brown spot gall.


‘Carbaryl is a man-made pesticide that is toxic to insects. It is commonly used to control aphids, ants, ticks, spiders, and many other outdoor pests. It is also used in some orchards to thin out blossoms on fruit trees.’ Pesticide information center

Biological Pest Control The Pros and Cons

Biological Pest Control The Pros and Cons

Biological controls work best when it is warm and activity is highest. The more pests the more there is for the control to eat and treat.


Biological controls are pest predators that can be bought mail order. Once introduced to the greenhouse or garden they can naturally take care of the relevant pest, enabling you to garden organically and free of pests. If you are considering using Biological pest control, these are the pros and cons

Advantages of Biological Control

  • They are totally organic and provide a natural solution to your pests.
  • They can be effective for upto two months.
  • Some biological control you don’t have to buy mail order. E.g. planting marigolds may encourage hoverfly and they will eat aphids.
  • Using Biological control means you won’t kill the natural predators like Thrushes for slugs, and ladybirds for aphids.
  • They don’t create an eyesore like slug pellets do.
  • Saves you having to kill pests, if you are squeamish at going round your lettuce leaves cutting slugs in half.
  • Some insects may develop resistance to domestic sprays.

Disadvantages of Biological Control

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Dealing With Ants

Dealing With Ants

I am not anti ant but aren’t you glad ants are only small or with their organisation and strength they could rule our gardens.


Photo by David Dennis CC

Ant at work. You have to admire the industry and organisation of ants.

Ants will be a common feature of any garden. To some extent, there is not much you can do about ants. In the garden they are a nuisance, but, sometimes it is just easier to live with them. Ants are more of a problem when they come into the house.

In the garden, you will notice ants, when areas of fine soil are created. (This actually makes very good topsoil). They are unlikely to do much lasting damage to your plants.

Generally, in the garden, I prefer to just tolerate ants, it isn’t really necessary to start using chemicals to kill them.

In the house they are more of a nuisance. But, before resorting to chemicals, simply try to block their entrances and keep areas clean of food.

Ants and Aphids


Photo by Martin Labar CC

This image shows ants and aphids working together. Ants are often attracted by aphids for the juice they excrete. In return, ants help protects aphids from predators.

How to Deal With Ants

  • Ants follow trails of food. Make sure you don’t have trails of food to your house
  • Ants do not manage to cross sticky substances. Using a jelly or slippery grease will prevent ants climbing in.
  • Often the easiest and most effective way of preventing ants entering in the house is to locate the hole where they are managing to enter. (Often ants follow a trail and you can see them returning out the same way they came – carrying food with them.)
  • If you find a colony of ants in a plant pot, you could drench the pot with water. (though make sure you don’t drown your plants.
  • Boiling water on an ant hill may also kill many of the ants in their. Though in the garden it might not be worth it.
  • Use Chemical pesticides.

Book Cover
Ant Spray at

Common Garden Pests

Common Garden Pests

Sometimes we don’t see the pest, but we definitely see their work.

What are the most common garden pests we are likely to encounter and how can we deal with them?


Anyone who has sought to admire their garden, will have come across the devastation that slugs can do. From new shoots of delphiniums to prize hostas and lettuce leaves, slugs can leave a trail of devastation before you can say ‘where are those slug pellets…’
Fortunately, slug populations can be controlled through both the popular slug pellet and more environmentally friendly organic methods. See: Tips for dealing with slugs


There’s not too much difference between slugs and snails when it comes to pests in the garden. I remember my grandma going out in the morning with a plastic bag full of salt, she could easily fill a bag with snails almost every week. The methods for dealing with snails are similar to slugs.

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Cuckoo Spit and The Froghopper

Cuckoo Spit and The Froghopper

It is nothing to do with birds or frogs but there is a lot of it about this year.
Cockoo Spit froth containing nymph of Froghopper

Cuckoo spit is the white froth found on plants in early summer. It contains and protects the grub or nymph of the Common Froghopper .
They are called Froghoppers because from above they appear frog-like, and they are able to hop significant distances when disturbed.

Problems Caused by Cuckoo Spit

  • Froghoppers are a pest known particularly to fruit-growers. They feed on plant sap which they extract from the leaves and stems of plants.
  • The grubs causes minor damage in itself, but the insects can carry viruses which can cause serious harm to crops.
  • The eggs are laid on a variety of plants including tender young shoots of Willow, Cherry, Canterbury Bells, Primulas and Apple.
  • Tender shoots and leaves can distort.
  • In gardens they are frequently encountered on such plants as chrysanthemum, dahlia, fuchsia, lavender, rosemary and rose.

Grub on leaf

The immature light green grub can be seen in this froth on the back of this leaf which is now distorted and curling round the wound.

Treatments For Cuckoo Spit

  • Hose off the froth with water or soapy water and the grub will desiccate and die before it can lay its own eggs.

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Understand Mildew in Your Garden

Understand Mildew in Your Garden

Mildew is an airborne fungus that requires wet weather and warmth to come to life. It is most visible during spring and autumn as the winter is too cold and in summer it may be too hot. The wetter spring and autumn is when the white powdery mold-like mildew shows up most.

When mildew is dormant or being blown around your garden as spores it is invisible. When it has infested your plants it often shows up as a white powdery substance which are dead spores. Black mildew is seen on wood an in damp places in the home whilst yellow patches with brown furry blotches underneath affects Rhododendrons. No plants are immune although some suffer a lot worse than others, roses, gooseberries, marrows, apples, sweet peas, clematis etc.


Tips to Control Mildew

  • It seems contrary but keep plants very well watered at the roots but do not splash the leaves.
  • Stress or lack of air circulation causes mildew to grow & thrive.
  • Mix one tablespoon baking soda with one gallon of water and spray all the plants as a contact fungicide
  • A spray made up with 10% milk and 90% water is not EU approved but is said, after trials, to be effective.
  • Look out for mildew resistant varieties.
  • Mulch when the soil contains plenty of moisture.
  • Do not plant too densely as mildew fungus loves stagnant air.
  • For severe infections, on roses for example, prune out infected parts and white patches on stems immediately. Burn or dispose of all infected debris.

Mildew on Phlox

Effects of Mildew

Lest you think mildew is a benign substance you should be aware of some of its effects.
Corn crops can be devastated by mildew and is of major concern to farmers.
Fruit crops can become mis-shapen and unsaleable.
Severe attacks can and will kill your garden plants.

Gall Midge Cures

Gall Midge Cures

Sunflower Stem Midge Gall on Giant Sunflower

Gall midges,  Cecidomyiidae or midge gnats often affect Hemerocallis or Day Lilies.
Midges lay their eggs on the buds which then fail to develop.
The problem is caused by the midge larvae which can be 3mm long. They drop onto the soil where they overwinter as pupae and start the problem next year.

Infected buds get bloated and swell but fail to open. Each bud may contain many larvae. Buds of early-flowering varieties of Daylilies are worst affected.

Other Plants Affected by Gall Midges

      Coneflowers and sunflowers.
      Balsam but I am less worried about a cure for this gall

Cures and Treatment for Gall Midge

  • Pick off or pinch off any infected buds and destroy.
  • Spray with Bug Clear or other insecticide. Bugs in the bud are protected by the bud so spray when midges are laying eggs.
  • Consider growing Day Lilies that flower later in the year. Gall midges lay eggs between late May and June
  • For varieties of gall that affect several other plants then the cures include good husbandry supported by chemicals for large infestations.

5e. Wasp gall
Photo credits
Sunflower Stem Midge Gall on Giant Sunflower by milesizz CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
5e. Wasp gall by kqedquest CC BY-NC 2.0 ‘Parasitic wasps and midges use the undersides of leaves on trees in the dune swail to lay their eggs. These egg packages, called galls, are often brightly colored and can take some interesting shapes.’