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If you are growing gooseberries, you might have to contend with a few pests or disease here or there, trying to ruin your harvest. But what do you do when you see the leaves are eaten? What is the culprit and how do you stop it?
Gooseberry Sawfly is a pest that brings about a great deal of damage to gooseberries in particular. It is not so much the adult flies, but the larvae that do the majority of the damage. Once the larvae are on your plant, they will begin to eat away at the leaves until such time as they have stripped away all of the leaves leaving only the skeleton of the leaves.
There are three main types of Sawfly including:
- Gooseberry sawfly (Nematus ribesii)
- Pale gooseberry sawfly (Pristiphora pallipes)
- Gooseberry sawfly (N. leucotrochus)
When a sawfly affects your gooseberry, it lays the pupae overwinter which usually hatch around April. The new insects lay eggs in the leaves. The new larvae eat heavily for about one month before they pupate. Three weeks later, flies emerge. You might have a full outbreak of two or three generations in a single year.
The can be very destructive
The larvae, as mentioned, eat their way through your gooseberry leaves from the outer edge, inward. If there are many of them, they can defoliate your bush in the span of a single week which is usually the main problem and the one that does the most damage. The fruit won’t be impacted, but the significant leaf loss will reduce the fruit you get next year and in the present, diminish the health of the bush. They can also spread to black currants and red currants.
How to spot them
If you see pests on your plant, they might be the gooseberry sawfly. The larvae look like caterpillars but their skin is shinier. If you can get an up-close look at them you might notice that they have three pairs of legs at the front. They can get up to 20mm long. One species is pale green and the other, green with black spots. There are three species but these two are the most common.
Prevention is key. You should regularly check your gooseberry for signs and symptoms. Most of the time the eggs are laid at the deep centre of the bush so don’t beat yourself up if you miss them.
As soon as you see them, control them. Remember, they can strip a bush in less than one week. The easiest way to control them is to pick them off by hand.
Spray with insecticide is recommended
Alternatively, you can use an approved insecticide. Many of these will enter the sawfly and kill it from the inside, so you don’t have to worry about it leaving behind an extra generation of babies. Be sure to find an approved insecticide for an edible plant though if you plan to use the gooseberries.
Recommended sawfly insecticide for gooseberries
- Kilsl most common pests on flowers and a wide range of edibles
- Protects from further attack.
Either way, once you have controlled the outbreak, remember to check the bushes regularly because even a few missed larvae can become adults within the span of a few weeks and wreak havoc on your bush all over again.
Image credits – Shutterstock.com
Last update on 2021-04-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API