Judy
Pests

Pests come in a vast array of shapes and sizes The most common ones being :-

SLUGS and SNAILS – as most of the snowdrops start to appear above ground in the cold of winter, I do not find slugs and snails to be a particular problem. For me it is the early flowering elwesii Hiemalis that can have the leaf tips and flowers nibbled as they emerge from the ground. Once the leaves and stem are approximately one inch high they are relatively safe.

GREENFLY – personally I have never seen greenfly on snowdrops; they prefer to hide on the underside of the hellebore leaves.

BIRDS – especially collared doves and wood pigeons love to peck off the flowers.

SQUIRRELS – when they are burying or digging up their nuts they may disturb bulbs that have been planted too near the surface. Planting bulbs to a depth of four inches should prevent this.

MICE – I have never known mice to dig up and eat snowdrop bulbs, only crocus corms. They may un-earth bulbs when excavating their nest sites.

MOLES – these can cause havoc in the snowdrop garden although they do not appear to eat the bulbs, they can move them about when excavating their runs. Clumps of snowdrops can be wiped out by moles as either the shoots can be severed from the bulb or the roots severed off the bulb if they happen to be at the same depth as the moles’ runs. Bulbs can get lifted out of the ground and if go unnoticed they will desiccate in the summer. It was after one attack of moles that I decided to grow my bulbs in aquatic baskets.

NARCISSUS FLY – probably more of a problem for people who grow narcissus, which I do not.
Adult narcissus flies emerge from the soil during May and June. After feeding and mating they lay their eggs in the soil, close to the base of narcissus/galanthus leaves. The eggs hatch after several days and the newly emerged maggots crawl down the outside of the plant and enter the bulbs through the basal plate. Once inside the maggots begin to feed off the bulbs flower shoot. By early winter the maggots are fully grown and will over winter in the bulb. In March or April they leave the bulbs and burrow their way through the soil to near the surface, where they will pupate into flies and repeat the cycle.
The tell tale signs of this problem will be a tiny hole in the basal plate; bulbs that feel soft to the touch (providing the maggot has grown sufficiently) and failure of the bulbs to appear next growing season
Prevention is difficult; you can run around with a fly-swat if you are young and agile (and can tell the difference between a narcissus fly and a harmless hoverfly or bee); alternatively, planting the snowdrops where the ground will be shaded from the sun in May will help.

For further information and photos, see the following websites:-

http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/Profile.aspx?pid=657

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merodon_equestris

BULB MITES – I always think of these tiny little white “things” as cleaners, as I have only ever seen them on diseased/decaying bulbs, never on healthy ones. I assume that these particular ones feed off the decaying bulb matter.
 

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