Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Enemy



Not a pretty sight these Chafer grubs. They really are one of the most loathsome pests in my garden and the battle to control them is not an easy one. They eat away at the fibrous roots of just about anything, much like weevil larvae, gradually weakening the plant which can ultimately result in death. There's a war on you know.

They seem particularly happy dwelling in pots which is bloody unfortunate as I grow a lot of things in containers. I read somewhere that they prefer soil free compost as there's less competition but I'm not convinced. I make my own compost and layer it every now and then with mole hill soil yet still they reside in it. I've lost loads of plants over the years to these little buggers. I say little, they can measure a good inch in length,probably nearer the size of that Ozzie culinary delight the Witchetty grub.

Streuth, bush tucker these ain't mate.



I've recently had to re-pot two topiaried Cupressocyparis Leylandii as they were showing all the signs of root attack. In fact such was the infestation that one of the trees had started leaning in its tub as the grubs had literally undermined it. As I teased the roots away from the old compost I must have revealed thirty or so, all of which were summarily dispatched avec boot!

Luckily they hadn't eaten the roots to a point beyond return, the trees seem quite happy in their new compost so disaster avoided.

There is chemical treatment, but goodness knows soil insecticides seem lethal and not something I wish to use. I believe there are nematodes but I can't source them here in France so maybe I'll try to find them in the UK.



Luckily they don't seem to be present in the citrus tubs. I've just brought these out of winter storage and they seem healthy as anything, the orange on the right (left is a lemon) is covered in buds so blossom isn't far away, all sans the enemy. On we march.

29 comments:

  1. You can't eat these? I bet they'd taste great lightly sauteed and dusted in sugar. Maybe a bit of orange reduction? I'm really stretchign here with the lingo.

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  2. Hi Benjamin

    Eat them? why not, all washed down with a good chianti or was that liver? Silence of the chafers.

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  3. Ugh. My mother kept a bantam hen (Henny Penny) when I was little, and she would run around after my mom and gobble these horrible things up as fast as she could, after they'd been unearthed by the garden fork.

    Personally, I would dry them, and reconstitute when out of season with a little boletus broth and serve them on toast with some frizzled sage. Wine...white, I think, slightly petillante, chilled to the bone, maybe from Switzerland?

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  4. Gotta laugh at Benjamin's comment.

    We have them here, I just can't grow Heuchura's at all. They love them.

    Jen

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  5. Grubs... don't get me started. Hate them.

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  6. Marie's right. Can you borrow a few chickens Rob.

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  7. I have them in my garden (US) in my compost pile since last year. My chickens do not like them at all! I put mustard seeds but did not scare grubs either. Looks like we will loose garden this year

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  8. Yuk!

    The chickens are a good idea, but getting into the containers would probably not cross their minds when there's so much to eat on the ground.

    Japanese Beetle grubs look similar.

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  9. I think it's time to move my sage, from the pot (of nice loose compost) to the ground (hard clay, yes!) Our cat Henry used to dig these grubs up, and eat them.

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  10. My neighbor had them. She had little, round, bare spots all over her lawn. She finally had to use a pesticide to rid the lawn of those nasty things. I don't like using chemicals, however, I wouldn't know what else to do. Wishing you luck with their disposal. Carla

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  11. They look a bit similar to Japanese Beetle Grubs. Anything that looks like that probably isn't up to any good.

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  12. I had to scroll quickly past them, yuck! I don't think I've seen them around here although I've seen a lot more Crows in our garden lately and I read that's a sign that there could be grubs. Hope your trees recover.

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  13. I see these all the time when I'm digging. They are so nasty.

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  14. There is nothing better than smashing a grub between thumb/index finger and their guts shooting for miles.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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  15. Where i come from when these guys get badly out of control you get moles. Moles love these grubs. But you would still have their tunnels to deal with. Once the grubs are gone then you send in my mouser she does not know the difference between moles and mice.

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  16. Rob, likely you have seen this: http://www.nemasysinfo.com/nematodes.shtml

    As if we don't have enough work! Grubs but additionally moles and voles make for unpleasant times in the garden.

    On a positive note: great photo. ;)

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  17. My 'The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control' says to apply milky disease spores, which will eliminate beetle grubs over a few seasons, or to apply predatory nematodes (not all nematodes are good for the garden). The milky spore is good for eliminating grubs of Japanese beetles; the nematodes handle them and other white grubs. It also says to water well before and after the application to improve results. Good luck!

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  18. Yea, what paula said--get some milky spores. It's very light and airy so you'll be covered in it too. But ti works. They eat the things. Mix some in your pots. Do it couple times a year.

    Anything else bugging ya?

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  19. Not crazy at all about grubs, but our chickens will eat them given the chance to dig where I don't want them too! We do have some moles here so they have been making the attack on the grubs, and I'll put up with their tunnels while they do. Wish I had an answer for the pesky little things, but I'll go along with everyone's answers!!

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  20. Thanks for your kind remarks.As to slugs and hosta, soapy water and a spritzer. I spray almost every day. That and sacrificial ligularia planted near the hosta.
    fry the bugs in a little bacon grease because everything tastes good with bacon. jim

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  21. You must have presented a feast to your bird population Rob! I would forego the culinary delight that contained these critters, though they are only root made. What a battle... thirty in one pot! I wonder if there is something you could put in your water that the plants would like but not the grubs would flee! Your containers are so lovely and now I appreciate them even more knowing what you go through to have them. Good luck with the ongoing battle. Nematodes might join you in the fight! Your orange and lemon look great... look forward to seeing them bloom. Carol

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  22. Yucky. But it looks like you got some solid advice from some of the comments on how to deal with them.

    More importantly, what does "Streuth, bush tucker these ain't mate" mean?

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  23. Yuk! Time to be observant, I guess ...glad all went well. Hum, nice recipe Benjamin ... now, a good chianti sounds much better, Rob :)

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  24. go fishin' with 'em. the fish love them!

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  25. I bet ehey taste like chicken, right?

    Chomp away, yum, yum, nom, nom,nom, nom.

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  26. An appropriately repulsive grub portrait, I thought, and I've been interested to read the suggestions for getting rid of them. Neem oil and citrus oils are nontoxic wide-spectrum pesticides, but I don't know how they'd do on grubs. Would diatomaceous earth work for them? For bugs, it skewers their little exoskeletons with its microscopic pointy parts.

    By the way I came over here via Noel's Garden because I figured anyone who likes Plant Delights is a kindred spirit. My catalogue is tatty with wear. The delightful writing, the knowledge, the plant lust - a great experience altogether.

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  27. Hi Anna

    These trees eventually succumbed to conifer die back, so where the grubs didn't get them something else did. Conifer die back is an increasing problem in Europe, nobody's quite sure what causes it, disease, nematodes etc???

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