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Pests and Diseases to look out for this Autumn

Check your laurels for powdery mildew and your trees, hedges and shrubs for vine weevil.

Autumn is a good time of year to get ahead when it comes to treating pests and disease in the garden. It’s still warm enough for treatment to be effective. Plus you can get any problems cleared up before winter sets in.

There are a couple of particular problems to look out for in the garden this month:

Powdery Mildew on Laurels

If your laurels are suddenly showing a white powdery film on the leaves and the newer growth is puckering up and twisting, then you have powdery mildew. This quite often appears at this time of year.




This disease is not fatal but will defoliate the newer growth. There are two ways to control this. Firstly, the non-chemical way is to prune off the infected growth and dispose of it well away from the infected plants.

The second way is to spray with an approved fungicide. The Royal Horticultural Society carry an excellent up to date list of approved chemicals.

In the long term, to help prevent the disease coming back, you need to get your plants into good health for the following year. You need to feed them in the spring and create good air circulation near the plants as high humidity encourages this disease.

Vine Weevil on trees, hedges and shrubs

The second and potentially more ominous pest is vine weevil. This is a naturally occurring native dull black insect approximately 9mm long with six legs and with a dirty yellow mark on the wing cases. The adult causes irregularly shaped notches in the edges of the leaves. However the real damage is done by grubs eating the vast majority of the root system, causing the plant to wilt and die.


picture of adult vine weevil beetle


The adults lay the eggs in August. These hatch over winter into c-shaped white legless grubs with light brown heads and are up to 10mm long. To reduce this pest, remove all dead leaves around affected plants as this is where the adults hide during the day.


picture of vine weevil larva


Secondly encourage natural enemies of vine weevils and their grubs such as birds, frogs, toads, shrews, hedgehogs and predatory ground beetles.

Perhaps the best method of control is to use a microscopic worm called a nematode. Nematodes can be watered onto the soil around affected plants during September and early October while the soil is still warm enough for them to be active.

These nematodes work their way through the soil searching out vine weevil grubs which they burrow into to reproduce and multiply which kills the grub. The nematodes will then move on to search out more grubs. This method of control is very effective if applied correctly. It is very safe for both you and the environment. Plus nematodes are pest-specific so will not kill beneficial insects. Nematodes can be bought online from a number of suppliers.

Need specific advice? Just ask!

If you have any specific concerns about your plants this autumn, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to offer our suggestions for your needs and site conditions. Simply contact us at or call 01723 862406.

28 September 2015