Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The dreaded sawfly....

A battle is raging at the lottie, a fierce, no mercy kind of insurrection. My soft fruit bushes and mostly the gooseberries are being attacked by a voracious, hungry, hungry catepillar. I'm talking the dreaded sawfly.

They are evil, pure evil, look up evil in the allotmenteer's dictionary (someone should really write one of those) and you would see their photo. They start off at the very bottom of your beloved plant and leave little tiny pin holes in the leaves. Turn that leaf over and you'll see teeny tiny almost see through catepillars, probably lots of them. grrrr!

If left unchecked (by that I mean, if left alive) they will quickly and I mean quickly, eat the leaves of your plant down to little skeletons in no time. They get fat - thus easier to see I suppose -  quickly too and that my friends is when WAR is declared. I not the biggest fan of gooseberries (I don't dream of them or anything...) and I'm generally a pacifist but when something is eating MY food - well, all niceties go out the window.

Andrew squishes them, I'm more girly (I hate things popping in my hands and leaving innerds and green slime everywhere, but that may just be me) and plop them into a container with water in it. I think salt would be good here too, but I haven't got any down at the plot and anyway our Blue Tit chicks are growing big and strong (and noisy) and they probably like the unsalted variety of sawfly. You can of course go down the pestiside route too but then I don't really like that.

 Be careful about the desire to just shake the plant and watch them all drop off, they just climb back up again or if they're old enough, they will thank you for the help - they go to ground in order to pupate (I hate that word!)

Here are some of my pictures of the new enemy in our plot -  I guess now we are becoming a more established allotment garden we're going to get  more of these pests....

Also, here is the RHS advice on the topic, this makes for scary reading, so don't do it before bed ;)


  1. awww poor caterpillars! reminds me of Miriam's favourite book 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' - you need to read it to gain insight and empathy into caterpillar world :P

  2. Lauran - The very hungry catepillar was my favourite book as a kid. I even got a copy about 4 years ago (with a cuddly catepillar) for my birthday! Imagine how torn I am over this!!!

    Damo - BE AFRAID, be very afriad and vigilant!! :D

  3. I like your powers of observation about these horrid things. Gardening is more observation and experience than taught I believe, whatever the so called experts pontificate about.

  4. Yikes! That looks like a serious infestation, Carrie. I'm glad y'all are nipping it in the bud quickly and relatively humanely and without putting pesticide on your food. I have to stop commenting now because my kitty has pushed his wajn onto the kyrboard!

  5. You can't empathise with anything that eats all the stuff you have been busily growing all season but I'm with you and are too squeamish to squish!

    All our brassicas are netted or the dreaded cabbage whites get in -that's if the wood pigeons don't get to the first. You just can't let your defences down can you?

    All caterpillars should eat nettles and other weeds like the nicely mannered ones do!

  6. Ugh! Those look scary! I hate caterpillars (unless they turn into a butterfly of course!) since mostly they just invade the garden then turn into ugly moths. We have lots of trouble with leaf loopers (which are the caterpillars of a white moth here in most of the US). I'm constantly picking them off of the leafs too... it certainly keeps me busy!

  7. Grrr! pesky critters! I took more care last year and managed to escape them. My apathy and laziness this year has cost me.

  8. Hi, great to discover your blog, but not so nice to see the sawfly. I hope you manage to salvage your soft fruit crop. You've reminded me that I need to get along to the plot and check. Husband was there last weekend doing an epic strimming session, but he doesn't do too well with recognising bugs. Like you, other life has been busy (elderly father in hospital 170 miles away, teenage children taking up time -how dare they ;)- and work totally exhausting just now). But you've spurred me on to getting back to the plot today, even tho it is raining.


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