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Wildlife foes

We all have problems in the garden with these wee pests. Here is a comprehensive list of them and how to deal with them.

We've done a lot of work to make the information here as accurate as we can, but if you find anything wrong or missing, please contact us.

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Name Plants affected & what to look for   What to do about it Illustration

Most plants are affected, especially roses.

Commonly known as greenfly, aphids range in colour from yellow-green to dark-green, purple, brown and black dependant on species. Given half a chance they live in dense colonies and are easy to spot.

Distorted growth and curled leaves due to sap sucking.

Attract birds and ladybirds to your garden - see wildlife friends.

Rub off of plant with your fingers or knock off with a jet of water.

Biological control: Aphidius or Aphidoletes.

Contact or systemic insecticide.

Bulb Fly Narcissi, hyacinths and sometimes other types of bulbs are affected.

Distorted flower and shoot growth and maggots in bulbs.

Destroy affected bulbs promptly. After cutting off old foliage, rake soil over clumps to cover the holes.
Caterpillars Many types of plants are affected, but especially serious on vegetables.  

It can recognised with more or less rounded holes eaten in leaves and fruit. Small caterpillars may be evident.

Only take destructive action if the caterpillars are really causing major trouble to the plant. Pick off insects by hand and move to a wild location.

You can pray with contact insecticide or use a biological control.

Eelworm Potatoes, bulbs, root vegetables and chrysanthemums are among many types of plant affected. Tiny yellowish marbles on potato roots, black rings in daffodil bulbs and knobbly outgrowths on root crops. Destroy affected plants and do not grow the same crop on the same area for at least four years.
Froghopper Froghoppers feed on plant sap which they extract from the leaves and stems of plants.

Froth, known as cuckoo spit, is the protective layer for froghopper nymphs.

In gardens they are frequently encountered on such plants as chrysanthemum, dahlia, fuchsia, lavender, rosemary and rose.

To control froghoppers make a 'tea' of garlic and hot peppers and spray the shoots of the plants. This wont kill them but will stop them returning.

Leaf Miner This term is used to describe the larvae of a number of insects who burrow through leaves of plants and trees.

It can be recognised by blotch-like or irregular maze-like meandering patterns within leaves as shown in the illustration.

Pick and destroy affected leaves.

Alternatively you can spray the infected trees/plants with Spinosad, an organic insecticide.

Mealy Bug Generally affecting indoor plants, mealybug is a small, soft-bodied insect which  has sucking mouthparts. Females are oval in shape and can be up to 5mm.
They are white or whitish-pink in colour and are generally covered in a white waxy material. They have filaments around the edge of their bodies and tails.

Some species produce "waxy wool" in which to lay their eggs. The males, if produced by the species, are delicate winged insects.
The old method of control was to touch colonies with paint-brush dipped in meths.  

You can spray with systemic insecticide.

Cryptolaemus or Leptomastix are the biological control. 

Red Spider Mite Especially serious on chrysanthemums, fuchsias, poinsettias and carnations. Plants shriveled and festooned with cobweb-like webbing which seethes with minute mites.

During the summer the adults are just visible to the naked eye and can be found on the underside of leaves. They can be any colour from yellow, green, orange, brown or even black depending on the host plant although all have 2 dark spots on the rear of the body. 

The females over winter in the cracks of greenhouses and conservatories and emerge to lay eggs when the temperature rise and the daylight increases 


Apply water mist spray to prevent mites from establishing.  

Apply derris regularly to check attacks.

Soft soap spray also works well.

A biological control is Phytoseiulus.

Sawfly The most common one attacks Solomon's Seal, and another Gooseberries.  Apples and other fruit trees can also be affected. Ribbon-like patterns on fruit; blisters on leaves Hand pick off

Spray infested areas.

Destroy affected fruits

Scale Insect Scale insect feed on the sap of the plant and large numbers will lead to yellowing of the leaves and in extreme cases total defoliation.

There are two distinct groups of scale insects - soft scale and hard scale. 

The most commonly found soft scales are Coccus hesperidum -  the adults are 3-5mm long, green to brown in colour, oval- shaped and appear slightly flattened (see picture left), and Saisettia coffeae - the adults are 5mm or longer in length, deep brown in colour and dome-shaped.

Hard scales have an armoured body, rather like a ladybird and do not produce honeydew. 


Again the old method was to touch colonies with paint-brush dipped in meths.

You can spray with systemic insecticide to kill adults and contact insecticide for immature forms.

There is currently no biological control for hard scale insects available but the biological control for soft scale insects is Metaphycus helvolus.


Sciarid Flies (Fungus Gnat) Almost any type of plant likely to be affected when the compost is too acid or waterlogged. Masses of tiny dark-coloured flies in and around compost. Tiny white, black-headed grubs around roots. Avoid over-watering.  If damage appears, drench compost with derris solution.

Biological control Hypoaspis works well

Snails and Slugs Almost all types of soft, fleshy plant tissues are affected. Irregular holes in leaves and other soft, fleshy tissues, associated with presence of slime trails. Although the obvious way of controlling these is by the use of slug pellets, there are a number of wildlife friends that will do a great job of clearing them for you.

Also look in wildlife friends for friendly slugs and snails.


Many flowering greenhouse plants, especially orchids, arum lilies and azaleas are affected.  Leaves, flowers and buds with tiny fleck marks; “thunder-flies” crawling over affected plants.

Small, slender insects about 2-3mm long when fully grown. The adults have two pairs of narrow wings fringed with long hairs, the wings are held along the back when at rest.

Colours range from pale yellow to black, dependant on species

Ensure that plants are not allowed to dry out or placed under other stress.  

Sticky traps work well.

Biological control is Amblyseius.

Spray insects with derris.
Vine Weevil

The adult beetle is flightless, it is dark brown or black in colour and has fine yellow speckles on its back, and appears dusty. The adult is nocturnal so rarely seen during the day.

Most commonly found are the larvae (grubs), these are found in soil or compost around the roots of plants. The larvae are creamy-white in colour with a brown head, they curl into a "C" shape when touched 


Avoid accumulations of debris. Dust HCH dust in compost if larvae are found when repotting.

Water at 500/1 fortnightly with Armatillox. This kills the eggs on contact

Biological control is Heterorhabitis


Indoor and greenhouse plants are mostly affected, but especially serious on tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and egg plants.  

Adult Whitefly are small, white, waxy winged insects that fly off the plant as soon as they are disturbed. They tend to stay close together and often congregate at the top of the plant. Whitefly should not be confused with Aphids which shed their skin leaving them on the leaves. 

Spray with contact insecticide as soon as detected: repeat every ten days.

Sticky traps also work well.

The biological control is Encarsia.

Wireworm The term wireworm is used to describe the lava form of many click beetles.  

Almost all types of plant are affected but usually most serious on potatoes and other root vegetables.  Infestation results in poor growth of plants and yellowish maggoty larvae on roots.

Cultivate affected land very thoroughly in winter to bring pests to the surface for birds to eat.

Thank you to:  for use of their images of mealy bug and whitefly

Wikimedia Commons -  - and Wikipedia - - for use of their images.

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