Plant Pests

Aphids are the most common of all pests and almost every plant from the smallest shrub to the tallest oak tree can potentially become infested.

Ants in the garden are more of a nuisance than a real problem. They rarely damage plants, but they do farm aphids.

Cabbage root flies affect the whole brassica family - including cabbages, sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli.

Capsid bugs are nasty little green things about 6mm long with six long legs. They love tips of young shoots and have wide tastes.

Carrot root fly larvae bury into the roots of carrots, parsnips and celery causing disfiguring black 'mines'.

Yes they will eat through fruit leaves, stems and even roots but one day the very hungry, creepy crawly before you may become a beautiful butterfly.

Chafer grubs have white bodies, brown heads and three pairs of legs (close to the head end), when disturbed they curl up into the shape of a 'C'.

Cuckoo spit is a mass of frothy bubbles on stems of plants, in particular chrysanthemum, geum and solidago.

The pale pink codling moth larvae attack the fruit of apples and pears by burying into them and causing internal damage.

Earwigs eat the developing flower buds of chrysanthemums, dahlias and others, as well as young leaves and flowers.

Certain species of the adult flea beetle are fond of cabbages, brussels sprouts, swede and other brassicas; some like potatoes.

A native bee that cuts pieces of plant leaves to line its nest. Don't begrudge these useful animals a waterproof nest.

Leaf hoppers are yellowish in colour. The immature nymphs are creamy white and crawl. Both nymphs and adults feed on the sap of plants.

Leaf miners leave pale twisting tunnels under the surface of affected leaves. Decoratively unsightly, but normally does no major harm to plants.

Leatherjackets are lengthy (up to 50mm), legless, seemingly headless, grey brown wiggling tubes. They grow up to become Crane Flies.

Mealybugs can be present in the house, the conservatory, the sun lounge or the greenhouse, few plants will escape its attention.

Leaves first develop a pale mottling but as the infestation progresses so the leaves become increasingly yellowish white.

Scale insects are sap feeding bugs that gradually weaken plants. So called because the actual insect is covered by a hard shell or scale.

Both adult scarlet lily beetles and their grubs eat holes in the leaves of lily plants, as well as the developing flower buds.

Slugs and snails are very damaging to all manner of garden plants. Their silvery trails may help tell you where they came from.

Thrips (also called Thunder Flies) are yet another sap feeding insect but one with a difference: this one will happily feed on the surface of a leaf.

Vine weevils are a devastating plant pest - suddenly otherwise healthy looking plants wilt and collapse.

Whitefly set up home and live out their lives on the underside of leaves. As adults they are about 2mm long with white wings.

Plant Diseases

Bacterial canker is a fungus particularly common on cherries and plums. The disease weakens the plant and can cause extensive die back.

Black spot is a common problem on roses. Prevention is better than the cure so it's important to know the symptoms and methods to control it.

Blight causes discolouration of the leaves, turning them brown from the edges inwards. The fungus will also affect potato tubers and tomatoes.

Blossom end rot is a common problem of tomatoes, peppers and aubergines grown in a greenhouse caused by erratic watering or dryness at the root.

Botrytis is a plant disease often found on indoor cyclamen and outdoor flowers such as dahlia and chrysanthemum kept in very humid conditions.

Bud blast is a fungus disease spread by rhododendron leaf hopper which lay their eggs on the flower buds of these plants.

Downy mildews thrive in moist, damp conditions and loves young plants. The upper leaf surfaces develop yellowy, discoloured patches.

Temperatures below zero will always affect tender plants, and sometimes hardy ones when grown in containers.

Fruit splitting is a problem of the tomato plant taking up too much water quickly and splitting the outer skin after inadequate watering.

Grey mould is an extremely common fungus and grows on many plants. Its greyish fuzzy fungal growth develops over infected areas.

Honey fungus affects the roots, trunks and stems of plants. A creamy white sheet of fungus grows between bark and the plant tissue beneath it.

Iron can be locked up in soil so roots of raspberries, azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias and other ericaceous plants cannot absorb any reserves.

Leaf spots can be of various colours; grey, brown or black. The spots are in fact dead leaf tissue caused by fungus which spreads the disease.

Pale yellow areas develop especially on foliage of fruit and vegetables. Tomatoes and rhododendrons are especially prone to show symptoms.

Nitrogen is a major nutrient that determines plant growth and green leaves. It is easily lost through winter rains so balanced feeding is needed.

Oedema occurs when plants take up more water than required for transpiration of the leaves. Often occurs in plants grown under glass.

Peach leaf curl is a crippling fungal disease of peaches, nectarines, almonds and apricots that distorts leaves and causes premature leaf fall.

Shoots may die back for any number of reasons including water-logging at roots, frost damage, disease problems or general lack of plant nutrients.

Potash deficiency is only a problem on tired soils that are deprived of organic matter or remain unfed for some time.

Powdery mildew, just as the name suggests, is a white, powdery fungus covering that grows mostly on the upper surface of leaves.

Rose suckers are thin sappy light green stems coming from the root stock. Usually has different leaf patterning and colour from the named variety.

Rust spores need a moist environment in which to prosper. The fungus develops mostly on leaves but also on stems.

Leaf not growing normally? To track the causes and alleviate the symptoms you will need to be more specific.

Smuts can be identified by small dark spots on stems. Larger dark swellings again on stems often accompanied by leaf distortion.

Tomato leaf mould symptoms include extensive discolouration with leaves or fruits turning brown and bleached white spots on plant petals.

Virus is normally seen as spotting of the leaf, growth distortion or yellowing or mosaic patterning of leaves.

Pests in the Home

Ants have a varied diet. The search for food by the worker ant often takes them indoors. They eat sugar, fats and grains.

Cockroaches are a nocturnal household pest that will eat almost anything, even the grease on walls and the wallpaper.

Although Earwigs do not damage household furnishings their presence is annoying and they may feed on stored food items.

Fleas are often bought into the house by your cats or dogs.

Rat and mouse activity is usually first noticed in the autumn when they are looking for a warm shelter where there is food available.

Silverfish appreciate damp, humid conditions and so are often found in kitchens, larders, bathrooms and behind loose wallpaper.

Social wasps, the species that live together in nests, are certainly an irritant.

Large numbers of woodlice may appear in your house gaining entry though cracks, doors and windows. They prefer damp conditions.

General Pest & Disease Control

There are about 11,000 species of ants in the world, but because they prefer warm environments only 50 species are in the UK.

Visually identify pest and disease problems on flowering plants.

Identify pest and disease problems on plant leaves.

Use our easy-to-use guide that shows at a glance what products are most effective for various pests an diseases.

Identify pest and disease problems on plant stems.