Events, Insects, Joycelyn

Primrose celebrates National Insect Week

Today marks the start of National Insect Week, a whole week of events and awareness across the UK. Many insects are vital to the garden, so join us in celebrating British bugs!

We have a selection of bee and wildlife-friendly plants for you to choose from. Or, if you’re not so fond of our creepy crawly friends, repel them humanely and efficiently with an ultrasonic insect repeller.

Here are some fascinating facts…

– The heaviest UK insect is the great silver water beetle, weighing in at about 25-30g.

Fairy Fly Laying Eggs
A fairy fly laying eggs on a leaf.

– The smallest is the fairy-fly, an internal parasite of water beetle eggs, at 0.25mm.

– The Lundy cabbage flea beetle and the Lundy cabbage weevil live only along a strip 1½ miles long, 30 yards wide on the island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel and nowhere else in the world. They feed on the Lundy Cabbage, a plant that only lives on that island.

– Painted Lady butterflies make their yearly migration from North Africa and the Mediterranean to the UK each spring.

– When threatened, Ladybirds bleed foul-tasting poisonous blood from their knees.

– When a ladybird emerges from its pupa, it doesn’t have spots — the spots appear as the exoskeleton hardens.

– Bombardier beetles can produce sprays of boiling phenolic liquid in the face of predators such as shrews.

– Earwigs don’t go in people’s ears. Instead, their name comes from either ‘ear-wing’ or ‘ear-bug’ – referring their shape which is like a human ear.

Twig Mimic Caterpillar
Can you find the caterpillars in these photos? source

– The complex folding mechanisms of an earwig’s hind wing have been copied to unfurl solar panels on space satellites.

– Insects are excellent at camouflage and mimicry – some caterpillars mimic twigs, and others mimic bird poo! Other harmless insects take advantage of our fears of bees and wasps, and colour themselves black & yellow to ward off enemies (even if they don’t actually sting!).

Joy PrimroseJoycelyn is a member of the Primrose marketing team.

She is a novice windowsill gardener but hopes to graduate to larger plants one day. She enjoys British food (despite its sometimes bad reputation) and British scenery.

At Primrose, when not tending to office plants, she deals with online advertising and social media.

See all of Joycelyn’s posts.

How To, Moles, Pest Advice, Pest Control

Getting Rid Of Moles: How To Use Mole Traps

Moles can cause a big mess in a garden, creating lots of little brown mole hills in an otherwise perfect, smooth, green lawn. Mole traps are a great way to take care of this problem; you can use tunnel, claw or spring traps. Follow this method to set them up for optimum results:

You Will Need:

  • Mole Trap(s)
  • Trowel
  • Something long and thin to use as a probe (such as a screwdriver)
  • Something to firm the soil in the mole tunnel (such as the handle of a garden tool)

First, try to figure out where the main tunnel is – the brown patches on your lawn (the mole hills) are usually along small branches off the main tunnel. These side branches may be up to 6 inches long and may not be revisited by the mole, unlike the main tunnel. Therefore, it is best to place the trap within the main tunnel rather than in the side branches.

Try to find the most recent hills (to maximise the chance that the mole will pass through) and use the probe to gently and carefully press into the ground near where you think the main tunnel is. It may take a few attempts to find the tunnel as it won’t be very big – about the size of a golf ball. You will have found it when you come upon an area of the ground which offers little resistance when you press down gently with the probe.

Once you have found the tunnel, use your trowel to dig the soil out of the tunnel, creating a small hole which is big enough to fit the trap, though not much bigger. Clear away as much loose soil along the tunnel as possible and press the base of the tunnel (using the handle of a garden tool for example) to make it firm and compact, so the mole is less likely to squeeze underneath the trap.

  When this is done, carefully set the trap and put it into the hole. You can test that it is working by using the probe to trigger it; then reset it and put it back into the hole. Put the turf back over the hole, making sure to cover any gaps where light could filter through while stopping any soil from tumbling into the tunnel.

Try to check the trap every day. If the trap has been triggered but you can’t see the mole, it is possible that it managed to find its way underneath the trap so you may have to adjust its position and make sure the base of the tunnel is still firm. Using multiple traps to cover the network of tunnels will increase the likelihood of successfully removing the moles from your garden.

Please note that mole traps will kill the mole when it is caught; if you prefer a more humane method of mole control, try an ultrasonic mole repeller or mole smoke to keep them away from your garden.

Gardening, How To, Pest Control, Slugs & Snails

Dealing With Slugs And Snails

Usually one of the few benefits of a cold, snowy winter is that it helps to kill off pesky slugs and snails. Unfortunately, this year we have had such a mild winter that the little pests have thrived, hit by nothing more than the odd day of rain and very occasional light frost.

As most gardeners know, slugs and snails can be utterly detrimental to your plants and flowers and must be dealt with. An easy method is simply to keep your plants out of the slugs’ reach. You can do this by using hanging baskets or keeping indoor plants. However, this is not always practical or desirable.

There are several methods of dealing with slugs. Covering your plants with netting will help to prevent slugs and snails as well as birds from attacking them. It is important to keep checking them however, in case any slugs have managed to slip through and to make sure that the plants do not get caught up in the netting.

Salt is extremely effective at killing them; however, sprinkling a barrier of salt around your plants may prevent slugs from attacking them, but if it seeps into the soil and is taken up by the plants and flowers themselves, salt can damage those too.

 A tested and safe repellent or slug killer may be a better solution and these are readily available. They are often in pellet form and should be scattered around the plants. The slugs will consume them and perish while your plants remain healthy and safe. Such products are very carefully controlled to be safe for use when children are present or nearby, but it is always best to check if they are suitable for use around edible plants, should you wish to use them near any crops.

An alternative method to pellet-based slug bait and killers is the slug trap. These are fitted into the ground near the plants or anywhere where you frequently see slugs and snails, and the base is filled with beer or yeast. The slugs are attracted by this and fall into the trap, keeping your plants protected.

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