The signs of vine weevil are unmistakable: dry, dead stems falling away from the compost. The little grubs feed on the root system in the soil, eventually destroying it so that the plant can no longer survive and they are more commonly found in potted plants or those planted in containers than in the ground. Unfortunately, once vine weevil has worked its way into your soil there is very little you can do to save the plants. However, it is possible to take measures to prevent the insects affecting some of your other plants.
The first thing you can do to avoid the problem of vine weevil is to avoid growing plants that they are naturally attracted to. Typically, vine weevil larvae are attracted to plants such as sedum, fuchsias, tuberous begonias and strawberries.
You can also eliminate the threat of vine weevil by treating your soil and compost before you even plant the plants. Compost can either be treated with chemical insecticides or by using natural nematodes- either of these methods will kill any vine weevil larvae before it is able to cause any damage to plants. You should bare in mind that, although nematodes may be less effective in dry or heavy soil, they are suitable to use around edible plants, whilst some chemical controls may only be suitable for those that are ornamental.
Natural methods of controlling vine weevil can also be effective. Simply using a torch to inspect your plants and the general garden area for the insects after dark means that you can pick off the larger adult weevils. You can also shake potted shrubs over a sheet of tarpaulin to catch the falling insects. If you want to save yourself this trouble but continue to use natural control methods, you could encourage natural predators, such as birds, frogs and hedgehogs, into your garden to eat the insects before they can get to your plants.
You can also use natural methods that prevent the vine weevils from ever reaching your plants in the first place. Using mulch, such as broken egg shells sharp shingle will make it difficult for the insects to reach the plants. Likewise, using a specifically designed barrier method such as Agralan Barrier Glue will also prevent the weevils from actually reaching your plants, meaning they can’t destroy them.
Other methods, such as keeping your plant containers raised, or with the feet in saucers of water will prevent vine weevils from reach the plants as they have difficulty climbing. Raised table planters, such as this trough planter would be ideal as not only do they keep your plants protected, the shelf below is great for storage.
Do you have any tips on how to deal with vine weevil? Share your ideas in the comments.
[Photo Credit: Martin Cooper Ipswich]