I think 2019 is shaping up to be the Year of the Aphid. It seems like the sap-sucking pests are everywhere at the moment: all over the Aqualegias in the back garden, on the onion seedlings in the greenhouse and in a particular nasty manifestation, infesting one or two of the trees in the Plot #79 allotment orchard...
The other day, I spotted the tell-tale marks of a leafminer on the leaves of a pea plant down at plot #59. Here’s what the damage looked like:
On the top of the leaf you can see the obvious tracks of leafminer tunnels, caused by larvae munching their way through the soft, tender leaf tissues. On the back the leafminer pupae are equally obvious.
According to the results of my Google-based research, this could be caused by any one of a small number of leafminer species. The damaged leaves will be less photosynthetically active, slowing the rate of plant growth. And whilst it’s not a drastic problem, short of using some pretty drastic chemical sprays, the only sensible course of remedial action is to remove the affected leaf section and add it to the council green waste bin. Which of course further limits the growth rate of the plant.
The damage seemed to be limited to one pea-plant, hopefully it’s under control for now, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on all our peas and sweet peas to make sure the problem doesn’t escalate.
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Thanks to one of the warmest, wettest UK winters since records began, the utility area at the end of our (soon to be demolished and replaced) garage/shed, which is home to three compost bins and three large water butts, is also hosting a small, but growing (and irritating) colony of mini mosquitoes.
The greenhouse just next door is sure to make an attractive hanging-out space for these pesky critters, and so I’ve taken steps to try to keep their buzzing and biting under control.
Enter, stage left: my latest botanical acquisitions, sourced from Wack’s Wicked Plants, a specialist carnivorous plant nursery based in Malton, North Yorkshire.
What we have here (from the left) is:
- Sarracenia alata ‘red tube’ – a North American pitcher plant from the De Soto National Forest, George County, Mississippi.
- Drosera filiformis – a sundew that traps its prey on long, sticky, downward-curling stems.
- Dionaea muscipula ‘giant peach’ – a venus fly trap with a red-coloured interior leaf.
- Sarracenia x purpurea ‘Barba Papa’ – a hybrid North American trumpet pitcher plant.
Obviously they’re all quite small plants – the better to ensure they survive the mail order delivery process – so I’m looking forward to watching them grow and develop (and devour those damned mosquitoes) over the course of the growing season. I’ll post more photos as they do.
If you’re interested in obtaining a few organic bug-catchers of your very own, check out the full range of carnivorous, insectivorous plants at Wack’s Wicked Plants. Or see the list of shows and plant fairs that Wack and H will be attending this year, if you’re keen to buy some larger, more menacing specimens.