Don’t Kill Your Garden Friends As Well As Your Enemies
Many readers of my blog or twitter will know of my ongoing battle with vine weevils. Their population seems to have soared in recent years, and with the hugely devastating consequences that they can have upon plants, I’ve made them a number one enemy. However, whilst battling these foes, it is important to remember that our friends the bees need as much help as possible. And therefore, the use of compost containing vine weevil pesticide should be strictly avoided.
It’s at this time of year that I start preparing the borders of my own garden, and clients, for that splash of winter colour. Cyclamen, ready to burst into flower during the bleak, cold months of the year are a particularly tasty morsel for vine weevil grubs. As are primulas and polyanthus which are so commonly used in the late winter and early spring season to provide some vital garden cheer. And with such plants providing an important palette of colour during grey and dismal weather, the importance of saving them is high. However, with fat, white vine weevil grubs chewing their way through root, after root, after root, the stunning winter display can quickly wither and fade to nothing and once the effects are seen above the surface, there is little that can be done to save plants.
But, far higher above the priority of a few plants, is the importance of bees. Without them, the entire human population is doomed, for pollination of our cereal crops, fruits, animal feeds, would all but halt. And I for one enjoy the blissful sound of a bustling worker drone on a quiet summer’s day as it gathers nectar for its hive. However, the use of neonicotinoid pesticide in vine weevil composts has been raised as a possible reason for ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ in bees, and therefore should be avoided at all costs. Though not proven, several European countries including Germany and France have already prohibited its use in compost. Largely due to concerns over its role in the horrifyingly quick decline of honey bee populations. And as much as I despise the wandering weevil, my friend the bustling bee is far more important.
So rather than opt for a pesticide, I’m afraid it’s back to basics. Destroy all compost and plants that have come into contact with the weevils. Place ‘trap’ plants, such as the ones mentioned above, between other vulnerable plants to entice greedy mouths away. Squish all adults you see. And whilst carrying out this labour intensive exercise, remember that bee queens and their colonies will be eternally grateful for one less hazard in their lives.
*This blog was originally posted at www.theguidetogaygardening.com