Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It's Good versus Weevil

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It's Good versus Weevil

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Horrocks

Now that the growing season is in full swing, it's time to watch out for those garden pests which can blight the best flowers and the biggest crops.

One of the most annoying nasties which can devastate plants within a short period of time is the vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus).

Once they have invaded your plants and their larvae are in the roots, there's little you can do.

The adult vine weevil is a greyish-black beetle around 9mm long, with a short snout and elbowed antennae, bent at an angle, making them look like a pair of miniature elbows.

They feed at night, hiding under garden debris during the day. If you disturb them, they often play dead.

Signs of adult presence include notches appearing on the leaf margins, often close to the ground, from mid-spring to mid-autumn. The reason most damage appears near the ground is because the beetles cannot fly, although they are capable of climbing. No window box, hanging basket, pot, trough or even house plant is safe.

But it is not the adults that do the main damage, but their grubs, which are white with brown heads and are slightly curled into a C shape. They devour the roots and the outer tissues of woody plants. The problem is that the larvae frequently remain undetected until it's too late. You should check the roots of new plants before planting.

Vine weevils are not particularly fussy about the plants they attack. They love rhododendrons, hydrangeas, camellias and other shrubs, as well as bulbous plants, fuchsias, cyclamen, impatiens, primulas, sedum, begonias and strawberries. Container-grown plants are particularly vulnerable. Symptoms of attack are that the leaves wilt and the plant collapses and dies.

The adults lay their eggs in spring and summer, so damage generally occurs between autumn and spring. …

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