Bugs and daylilies

by James Alexander-Sinclair

I thought I'd venture, briefly and very amateurishly, into Pippa's territory to see what pests are doing their best to blight my garden.

Daylily (hemerocallis) flowersMy garden - like yours - is looking fantastic at the moment. Plants that were just poking from cold ground a couple of months ago are now enormous and luxuriant. Bees buzz, roses overflow and lawns are lush.

Rather than just brag, I thought I'd venture, briefly and very amateurishly, into Pippa's territory to see what pests are doing their best to blight my garden. I'm not brilliant at such things, and quake inside when people bear down on me, clutching festering leaves in polythene bags. A very charming lady asked me a question about some scabby broad beans at Gardeners' World Live and I had to admit that I hadn't a clue; she gave me a very dirty look.

In an attempt to improve my knowledge, I've been scuttling around my borders looking for critters. The first is relatively straightforward: the mullein moth caterpillar. These are stripy chaps that start quite skinny, but rapidly become as fat as witchity grubs by eating verbascum leaves at a terrifying rate. I grow the gorgeous Verbascum bombyciferum, which has gloriously felted leaves and pale yellow flowers with jam-coloured centres. This species doesn't seem to suffer as much as some others, but I always keep an eye out and pick the caterpillars off whenever I see them. I found one on the kitchen ceiling yesterday, which was a bit of a surprise.

My second bug is an unsightly outbreak of blackfly on my cardoon. Looks ugly, but the plant is so very large and healthy that I don't think it's suffering much. I tend to rub blackfly off with my thumb whenever I pass.

Number three on the Blackpitts bug list is a new one to me. I have noticed that lots of my daylily buds were looking skanky and deformed. I broke one open and it was completely rotten and crawling with tiny grubs. These are the foul offspring of the hemerocallis gall midge. So, very sadly, I had to remove all the infected buds from my daylilies, to try and break the cycle. I've got a couple of good flowers on H. 'Bela Lugosi', but not a sausage on H. 'Stafford'.

That is probably enough pests for one blog; if we start on lily beetles or capsid bugs then I'll only get depressed.

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Bugs and daylilies
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 03/07/2008 at 09:30

I realise that you're learning too but wondered if anyone had any advice regarding aphids. They are all over my broad beans and I've tried spraying them with soapy water and I bought some ladybird larvae (which incidentally, I have a feeling may have been harlequin ladybirds but that's another story...) and I've seen a few munching away at the aphids but they're severely outnumbered. I'm kind of resigned to leaving them there and there are some pods which are fattening up nicely, they just have a dusting of aphids all over them but, if I do leave them alone, will my beans still be edible or will they spoil the entire crop? Thanks all :-)

Gardeners' World Web User 03/07/2008 at 19:15

Ever thought of going in the back yard and just look at the plants what are healthy?? Then dont you think that plant must not taste nice for the bugs "Think I Will Break A Few leaves of it and make them into a spray" Boiling a few leaves should be safe enough for you? Why not try it and would love to hear the results, Take Care mate!! micks 100% organic Loveshack,

Gardeners' World Web User 03/07/2008 at 20:18

Just been outside to check on daylilies buds they look fine but something thats been covered in? I've noticed since coming into bud this year is my variegated leaved water iris the sparrows have been hanging onto them eating what looks like green/white fly its not stopped them flowering or hurt the flowers in any way, they just look a bit strange because the flowers are a unusual in colour and at close inspection you see all the bugs.

Gardeners' World Web User 04/07/2008 at 14:59

On the subject of pests, please can someone help me with mine! It's a yellow spider with spindly fine legs, that is causing fatal damage to my geraniums, hostas, Alchemelia mollis, Fatsia japonica, just about everything in fact. The leaves turn brown and the plant dies, I am desperate for help please!

Gardeners' World Web User 05/07/2008 at 19:44

this year my berberis was defoliated by what I think are sawfly larvae, is this a common pest on these shrubs?

See more comments...