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WEEVIL ENEMIES; Look out for these Top 10 pests.

Byline: Steve Riches

AFTER briefly relinquishing their crown to a nationwide plague of viburnum beetle in 2010, slugs and snails are back at No 1 in the official Royal Horticultural Society Top 10 Pests chart.

The RHS had far more calls about tackling these perennial terrors than any other during 2011. But there were also two unwelcome newcomers to the club.

In at No 6 is the fuchsia gall mite, which was unknown in the UK until 2007. And new at No 8 is the leek moth, rapidly spreading north from its base in southern England.

The gall mite prompted the same number of calls to the RHS advisory line as the cypress aphid. And the leek moth caused as much frustration as chafer and mealybugs.

So, keep an early eye out for tell-tale signs of these little critters. Last year's positions are in brackets. 1 (2) Slugs and snails: Cause huge damage in spring and autumn, attacking most plants, but mainly potato tubers, hostas and narcissus. 2 (3) Cushion scale: Sucks the sap of evergreens, particularly camellia, holly, rhododendron and euonymus, and makes a sooty mould.

3 (6) Vine weevil: Adults eat notches in leaves of plants and shrubs. Larvae feed on roots, mostly those on plants in pots.

4 (9) Ants: Love sunny gardens and well-drained soils. Soil excavated from nests can smother small plants and they can be difficult to eliminate. 5 (1) Viburnum beetle: Larvae can reduce viburnum foliage to lace work during spring. Adults eat the leaves in summer.

=6 (-) Fuchsia gall mite: These infest shoot tips and flower buds distorting then preventing normal development. No effective chemical control is available and experts fear a decline in fuchsia popularity. =6 (-) Cypress aphid: Back in the chart after a short absence. It is the cause of die-back in many conifer hedges. Shoot tips dry up and hedges turn yellow, then brown in summer. =8 (-) Leek moth: Caterpillars attack leeks, onions and shallots, tunnelling into the stems and bulbs after feeding on the foliage.

=8 (=3) Chafer grubs: Feed on roots of lawns, loosening turf that may then be ripped up by predator foxes and birds hunting them. =8 (-) Mealybugs: Another one returning to the top flight. These sap-sucking insects attack a host of plants in houses, conservatories and greenhouses, infesting leaf axils as they go.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Feb 5, 2012
Words:389
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