Friday, 11 December 2015

Problem Area - Plant Pests ... Eelworms, Slugs & Snails!

Good Morning!
Welcome to my next post related to Problem Areas. Currently I am focusing on Pests!
What exactly is a Plant Pest? 
A Plant Pest gains it's nutritional requirements from the host plant it feeds upon. 
There are various ways which it can gain it's sustenance but broadly speaking it either eats or sucks a plant's sap.
It's a good idea to take note of a pests life cycle as they are more vulnerable at certain stages.

These can be particularly problematic to the roots, tubers, bulbs leaves or stems of a plant.
This is most common between the months of March - May.
One of the tell tale signs is that the plant growth is stunted and foliage has a chlorotic (yellow/green) appearance that may appear wilted / droopy.
Narcissus bulbs are particularly susceptible and may be come soft when infected.
These can be hard to find as they live inside the tissue of the plants / bulbs and can only be seen with a microscope. However if you cut a bulb in half and can see tell tale signs of brown rings without any sings of maggots then you can see that this pest is present.
To get rid of this disease you need to dig up and dispose of any affected bulbs and any others that may not even seem affected in a 1m radius as the eelworms can spread via leaf contact or the soil if left untreated.

Photo from RHS

If like me you like to garden Organically there are a few things you can do -
* Always ensure that you buy good quality, firm bulbs and check them all before planting.

Pretty much everyone, gardener or not can identify these two pests in their gardens. They can cause damage all year round to plants but they are most problematic in the Springtime to seedlings and emerging young growth.

Photo's from RHS

Slugs are soft bodied molluscs that mostly feed at night and leave tell-tale slime trails which can alert you to where they may be. They can vary in size and colour and they live on or just below the soil surface. Unlike snails, slugs remain active throughout the year, even more so in milder, wet conditions and reproduction happens mostly in the Spring and Autumn.

Snails are easy to spot because of their shells, are less common on acid soils and can move more freely over dry terrain than slugs.
As I mentioned above Snails are dormant in late Autumn / Winter time often clustering together in protected areas. Reproduction also occurs mostly in the Spring and Autumn.

A great deal of damage can be caused by these pests as they will eat the soft tissues of leaves, stems and roots and can climb up to a fair height above ground level. Most of the damage will be done at night, especially to seedlings and young plants.
The slime they produce can reduce the quality of your crops and lead to fungus / rot.

Photo from Google.

If like me you like to garden Organically there are a few things you can do -
* Pick off and remove the pests after nightfall when they are easier to find.
* Ensuring that valuable or young plants have physical barrier.
* Grow on any young plants so that they have good strong, healthy growth before planting out.
* Turn over any hiding places for predators (e.g. birds) to find.
* Growing Plants known to be less likely to be eaten, there are quite a few varieties that can be found over on the RHS website.
* Biological control can be gained against slugs by the use of Nematodes.
There is also Chemical control available.

I hope you have found this interesting and helpful if any of you come across this particular pest!

1 comment:

  1. I think I have the snail population of Wales in my garden, Nat! They are in every overturned pot and dark hiding place and even crawl up the pebble dashed walls, so you're right that they can withstand dry terrain better! Don't like slugs - there's nothing worse than sticking your hand on one when you're not expecting it! Hope you're managing to stay dry with all this wet weather! Hugs, Lisa x