Shokking Pestilence

It was a nice sunny day. Frau Shokker was happily pruning some roses whilst I balanced precariously on a scaffolding plank laid out across the pond as I cut back the expiring foliage on a range of pond plants. That wasn’t a task that I would let the Frau attempt as she’d probably end up in the pond.

Suddenly, I was surprised by a loud exclamation emanating from the Frau’s general direction as she enthusiastically announced “You’ve got Fuchsia Gall Mite!” Having completed the frantic process of regaining my balance (without falling in), I went to examine the evidence, to which Frau was pointing whilst jumping with excitement. I looked. I pondered. Was what I was seeing the consequence of a bug infestation or the impact of heatstroke (on the plants, that is) earlier in the summer. Sometimes, don’t you just wish that whoever brought these pesky things into existence would make them easily identifiable?

We proceeded to examine all the other fuchsias in the garden but could observe no other indication of trouble. A consultation of “the map” revealed that this pest had not previously been reported in these parts. But what if ……..? Someone’s gotta be the first!

We bravely took the decision. Let’s follow the instructions and chop that fuchsia back by 10cm and a bit. The Frau embarked on the task whilst I went to prepare a container of sterilant, into which the secateurs would subsequently be dunked.

Then Frau pondered, “What if I’ve managed to get the buggers on my clothes?” I said I was quite happy if she wanted me to put her garments into the washing machine. It was the least I could do to make sure any problem remained contained here. But Frau wasn’t too enamoured of the idea of being clothesless for the hour or so during which the washing machine and then the dryer would be doing their thing.

“What about burning?” I asked. “You could keep your clothes on for that! I’ll just spray some petrol over you and light it.” “But won’t that hurt?” asked she. “Not at all,” said I, “I’ll just stand well back and throw a burning rag onto you.”

It would seem that Frau is unappreciative of my concerns for her as she simply disinfected the secateurs and then applied sanitiser to all exposed parts (of her).

Meanwhile, I discovered that, yet again, the solution was far more complex than the problem. The solution for something named simply “Fuchsia Gall Mite” is the somewhat grandiose “Amblyseius Andersonii”. These aren’t nematodes but mites. Small mites. Mites you can’t see. Like you can’t see nematodes or, indeed Fuchsia Gall Mite. Do any of these actually exist or are they imaginary creatures dreamed up in the interests of commercial opportunity? Whatever, better safe than sorry.

This is what the tiny little mites look like. They’re inside those little packets, all snug and warm with a diet of bran.
And this is what they look like fastened over the affected plant.

I’m supposed to leave them for eight weeks, in which time the stupid (but good) mites will stupidly wander out of their little warm packets and search for the bad mites who may themselves wander into the little warm packets, now vacant, and proceed to devour that lovely bran whilst the goodies can’t find any baddies outside and so starve. And thus, hopefully, the problem will be solved for this year. Of course, never let an opportunity be missed for the instructions say that I should re-introduce the goody mites next spring to help prevent the baddies from returning.

Given the cost of the quantity of packets of goody mites I’ll need to protect every fuchsia I’ve got (recommended), the baddies had bloody well better return as, otherwise, I’ll have wasted my money!

Meanwhile I’m happy to report that, thus far, Frau Shokker has not managed to spontaneously combust.

2 thoughts on “Shokking Pestilence

  1. Troubled as I am by the same variety of malevolence, I will be interested to hear whether the predatory mites sucessfully deal with the intended prey. I chop infected shoots off as soon as I see them and I check frequently in hopes of seeing them early. There’s no way I’d leave an infestation on the plant just to feed the predators and it doesn’t sound like you have either, so if the blighters return you know it’s a fail but if they don’t, is it because you removed them or because the predators mopped up any stragglers. I don’t like to think what it would cost to hang those tea bags on all my Fuchsia plants.
    And all that supposes you have gall mite to begin with because I’m not really convinced by that top picture, looks more like capsid to me, which would be a good thing in most respects.

    1. Hi Jim. Thanks for this. G called in today for a catchup (she’s on the mend but we thought we’d give her another week to be safe) and we had a wander. Couldn’t find any evidence of capsid bugs and no sign of any issues with other fuchsias here. The affected one is already putting on new growth which is fine so we’re thinking that what we found was “heat stress” or something like that. Keeping fingers crossed.

      Looking at reviews on Green Gardener’s web site, it seems that people have had success with just one or two sachets of the predator per plant so I might buy a 20-pack in the spring. At less than £20, might be a “better safe” approach but then I’ve only got 18 fuchsias to worry about.

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