6 common garden pests and diseases and how to get rid of them

Wet and warm weather can create a breeding ground for pests and diseases attacking our crops. Here's how to tackle them.

Mild weather and heavy rainfall may be good for the garden, it also provides an ideal breeding ground for pests and diseases.

Rot and grey mould may attack strawberry beds, codling moths could invade apple and plum trees, while aphids, carrot fly and slugs and snails will undoubtedly be doing their utmost to munch through our precious crops.

So, who are the main culprits and what can we do about them?

Slugs and snails

These are the most persistent and troublesome pests in wet weather, as they have a taste for tender edible crops, including lettuces and beans, while below ground they can burrow through potato tubers. Pick them off veg as you see them and be vigilant, particularly after rainfall.

[Giant hogweed and 5 other dangerous foreign plants you should avoid]

Alternatively, spread really sharp grit around vulnerable plants or at the edge of vegetable beds. If you have veg in pots, try wrapping copper tape around the top of the pot, which acts like a tiny electric fence.

Grey mould

This can be a real problem when strawberries are just starting to ripen. You need to avoid watering strawberry beds as the fruit develops grey mould if it's in contact with wet ground. Try to stop the rot by sliding a strawberry mat around the collar of each plant, or tuck handfuls of straw around the plants to keep the fruit off the ground.

Codling moths

The caterpillars of these small moths bore into apples and pears in summer, causing the fruits to ripen and drop early. Often you can see the small, brown, white-headed caterpillar at the core.

To protect trees, set codling moth traps, which look like bright yellow or green tents, to which the insects are attracted, and then glued to the spot. Place a small amount of pheromone in the trap (this comes in the kit) to lure males in, and once they are out of the picture, females will remain infertile.

Vine weevil

These beetles can prove devastating to plants, particularly those in pots, but also among strawberry plants. The beetles eat the leaves between spring and summer while their white maggot-looking larvae eat the roots of the plant. Often the discovery of the larvae is made too late, when the grubs have literally chomped their way through the roots of the plant, effectively killing it.

On mild spring or summer evenings, inspect plants and walls by torchlight and pick off the adult weevils, which are black with dull yellow markings. To deter them, you can use biological nematodes Nemasys vine weevil killer in early spring or autumn, mixing with water and soaking the plant. Or use a special compost with an anti-vine-weevil ingredient when planting containers.

Woolly aphid

These insects, which often invade apple trees, hide under a white fluff which is often mistaken for mould. The blackish brown aphids suck sap from the woody stems from spring and, if not tackled, are likely to spread to younger shoots by summer.

Their damage can lead to lumpy growths in the bark, which can split in the winter, and lead to apple canker. Scrub colonies with a stiff bristled brush in spring or early summer.

Carrot fly

If you haven't yet covered your carrots with fine insect-proof mesh, don't waste any time. It will also screen out greenfly and blackfly and won't trap heat underneath, so it can be used in summer.

Grow tall-growing crops like Brussels sprouts away from the blanket covering, and make each plant an individual covering so they remain caterpillar-free. Plants that need pollinating to produce a crop, such as beans and courgettes, will need to be uncovered when they start flowering, to allow access for pollinating insects.

More from BT