Green-fingered Brits have been warned to protect their plants from seven of the most prolific pests this spring and summer.
Horticulture experts from GardeningExpress.co.uk have revealed the pesky bugs that can do the most damage to crops, and advised on how to identify them and get rid of them without using harmful pesticides.
A variety of UK bugs will seek out healthy plants to feed on over the warmer months, with some capable of ruining crops completely.
There are a variety of methods gardeners can use to protect plants, but if certain insects
do manage to infest your garden, catching them early on will prevent too much damage being done.
A spokesperson for GardeningExpress.co.uk said: “Both novice and expert gardeners alike will know how disappointing it is to spend hours toiling away at your flowerbeds and vegetable patches, only for them to be ruined by swarms of pesky slugs, caterpillars or aphids.
“There are many different bugs in the UK that can harm flowers, shrubs, trees and crops, but we’ve identified seven of the most prolific to watch out for and advised on natural, chemical-free ways to get rid
Box tree moth
In their prime from April to October, box tree caterpillars feed within webbing and can completely destroy all of the foliage on box plants.
To stop the damage, remove the caterpillars by hand.
Be very careful – they can be toxic to humans. Wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards.
Prevalent in most gardens, ant nests can cause damage to lawns and flowerpots as small heaps
of soil appear above the surface. Ants are best left alone, but you can brush away the soil heaps
on a dry day.
Slugs and snails
Slugs and snails can cause real damage in the garden as they eat their way through leaves, flowers, stems, and bulbs.
Adult slugs can eat 40 times their own weight in a single day.
Use eggshells, copper tape or sand as natural ways to get rid of these pests.
Woolly aphids hide under white fluff on apple tree trunks and branches, and attack the bark by sucking the tree’s sap.
This weakens a tree’s vigour and leaves it open to attacks by other pests and diseases.
To control an infestation on smaller trees, scrub the aphid colonies with a stiff-bristled brush.
You could also try and encourage their natural enemies – ladybirds, lacewings and hoverfly larvae.
Adult weevils eat leaves during spring and summer, but the grubs cause the most damage over autumn and winter as they feed on plant roots.
Where vine weevils are suspected, take a torch out an hour or so after dark and pick them off by hand before placing them in a jar of water, as they cannot swim.
You can also place a 2cm layer of grit on the compost surface to make it hard for the adults to lay eggs.
Southern green shield bug
This species can cause damage to some vegetables, especially runner and French bean pods.
It feeds on the sap, causing misshapen fruit to grow.
Perhaps surprisingly, you can use the hose attachment on a vacuum cleaner to suck up the bugs from the affected plant.
Remember to replace your vacuum bag or clean it out thoroughly afterwards.
You can also spread fly tape around plants so catch them as they make their way to your precious plants.
Capsid bug feeding sites will appear as rows of small ragged holes in the foliage on numerous plant species.
They’re sap-sucking insects that prefer to feed on the new growth of plants, and are most active between May and August.
Organic sprays containing natural pyrethrum will kill capsid bugs and other insects.