Gardeners Beware! Greenflies Set to Swarm Us
Brits aren’t the only ones savouring the warmer weather; the Mediterranean spell has put some ofthe nation’s most destructive pests on high alert, with Wyevale Garden Centres warning of a greenfly explosion set to storm the UK. Gardeners and farmers alike should brace themselves for the infestation as greenflies – also known as aphids or plant lice in their early stages – swarm thenation’s crops, feeding on their sap while quickly damaging the plants’ growth in return, and potentially spreading disease.
Small but mighty, aphids are one of the top pests enquired about by customers at Wyevale Garden Centres each year. They can produce more than 600 billion descendants in one season, nothelped by this year’s prolonged frosty winter, which killed off their predators, leaving up to six generations of greenfly alive at one time.
Duncan Mclean, buyer of fertilisers, chemicals and growing media at Wyevale Garden Centres,explains; “The cold snap earlier this year will have reduced resident populations of pests and predators alike. The pest population reproduces at a much faster rate than the natural predators, so the balance will tip in the favour of the pest, and is likely to cause an aphid outbreak.”
The recent warm weather will have encouraged fresh, tender new growth in the garden, which acts like a magnet to hungry aphids who relish the sweet sap. Pest control is made harder by aphids’ability to reproduce asexually (parthenogenesis), meaning that they can breed at a rate of knots without actually mating. To make matters worse, ants like to protect and ‘farm’ aphids to keep themalive, benefitting from the tempting Honeydew they leave behind.
However, greenflies are not a completely lost cause for the nation’s keen gardeners, and Mcleanassures there are plenty of ways to prevent and protect your garden from the pernicious pests thissummer. “Tactical planting can go a long way when it comes to creating a nature haven that attracts desirable wildlife, while also deterring any unwanted, damaging species. ‘Companion planting’ willhelp steer away greenflies and attract the insects that prey on them; while ‘sacrificial planting’ willhelp protect your desirable crops, such as fruits and vegetables.”
The potent scents of French marigolds, garlic, coriander, chives and oregano are known to repel aphids and draw in predatory insects such as hoverflies, lacewings and ladybirds. Likewise, plants such as lavender, basil, fennel, calendula, wormwood, Echinacea and coreopsis will help to entice your own private army of beneficial bugs, ensuring your crops flourish and aphids wane. For sacrificial planting, surround your beans with nasturtium to lure the aphids away so that you can reap the rewards of your freshly grown produce.
Aside from planting new varieties, Mclean offers three simple, natural solutions for combatting an aphid outbreak: “Use yellow sticky traps to attract the aphids in the greenhouse; build a bug hotel to provide shelter for beneficial insects; or use a natural-ingredient bug killer, such as Pyrol, to kill eggs and larvae and treat infestations.”
For more information, visit www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk.
About Wyevale Garden Centres
- Wyevale Garden Centres, formerly The Garden Centre Group, is the nation’s largest group of garden centres, with over 145 centres across the country. Please refer to us as “Wyevale Garden Centres” or “WGC” rather than “Wyevale” to avoid confusion with our friends atWyevale Nurseries.
- Ninety per cent of Wyevale Garden Centres’ plant stock is British-grown, and much of this stock is grown in its own nurseries. Wyevale Garden Centres employs over 5,000 staff and runs its own gardening membership club, The Gardening Club, which has over 2.5 million members.
- For more information visit www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk