Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Garden pests - gooseberry sawfly

We now have 6 gooseberry bushes scattered around our garden.
I forget now whether there are three varieties or four.
One we've had for years, and some of these are self/bird seeded plants some of which we have moved to more appropriate positions.
A couple of years ago we wanted something new, and had a recommendation to buy Lancashire Lad and Dan's Mistake.
We got in touch with Rougham Hall nursery which holds the national collection of gooseberries, but were a bit late for that year's list, as it was early December.
They supplied Lancashire Lad immediately, but we had to wait until last year for Dan's Mistake.
A couple of weeks ago I was sitting on the edge of the strawberry bed looking towards these newer bushes. Although still very small several fruit have set.

But what caught my eye was the infestation of gooseberry sawfly. We usually have problems with these little caterpillars stripping the leaves off the bushes much later on around the time they have finished fruiting.
So now every other day I go down the garden in the late afternoon, armed with a pair of particularly slim nosed tweezers and a plastic tub containing a strong salt solution.

Today I didn't find many (10-4-2-15-19-1), but had to inspect each bush/cordon from head to toe.

Now comes the fun bit!
Have you ever tried, when not feeling 100% (I have just had a very lengthy bout of the usual voice loss virus) , to photograph one of the most perfectly camouflaged garden pests?


Blogger Mary deB said...

It took me a moment, but I found the critter. You are lucky you noticed now, I suppose.

2:10 am  
Blogger m said...

They are cunning little creatures, pale yellow green with a black dot for a head at first.
At this stage they assume the green colour of the leaf they are eating. Mostly they lie along the length of the edge they are chewing, like so. One or more skin sheddings later and they have many dark dots along the torso.
By that time they are capable of stripping leaves back really fast.

8:51 am  
Blogger Leigh said...

I've never seen sawfly before, but then no one around here grows gooseberries. I think our summers are too hot. What a job to hand pick them, but really, it seems the best way to deal with them.

I'm sorry you lost your voice again! Seems like you'd finally have that thing beat once for all.

2:50 am  

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