Tuesday, July 29

Is there a new pest on the block?

Do you remember how well our onions were growing?
Well one day last week we went to the plot to find all our onions and shallots in all areas of our plot looked like this.
Suddenly the tops had died. We weren't the only ones on the site to experience this as some other plotters were noticing the same problem.

All I could think was that the dreaded allium leaf miner had eventually reached West Yorkshire. Some allotment holders south of us now have to grow alliums under cover and they have kept telling me that the pest was on its way up North!

As I do at times such as this, my first thought (or maybe second) was to take a photo so that I could search the web for confirmation of my fears - or better still find out that the photo showed damage of a very different  less worrisome kind.
The holes in the leaves seemed to indicate that my fears were justified and the dreaded allium leaf miner had reached us, however I am still not absolutely sure. From what I read I would have expected to find grubs inside the leaves and also why the sudden demise of every single onion and shallot top on our plots and the plots of others all some distance apart.

As the onions were obviously not likely to make any more growth I lifted them. There doesn't seem to be any evidence of pest damage to the bulbs which are of a useable size.
Hopefully if this lovely weather continues the bulbs should dry well but maybe when I clean them up I will discover a problem lurking beneath the surface. When we get a chance we will lift the bulbs off the ground on some wire mesh to get some air circulating all around them.

So do we indeed have a new pest in the block - after last year's mild winter it would come as no surprise that an army of allium leaf miners had advanced into our area . One of the downsides of a mild winter is the pests survive and flourish along with the good guys. Maybe there is another reason for this.

Anyone had experience of allium leaf miners and if so does the damage look like this? At this rate soon everything will end up growing under mesh or netting!

24 comments:

  1. It's a constant battle, there's a specialist pest for absolutely everything isn't there. I've noticed lots of flying things this year as well as loads of antsj. And rabbits come to think of it. We're under attack!

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    1. Ants seem to like biting me, CJ. There's nothing worse than an ant biting its way up the inside of your trouser leg.

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  2. Sad Sue, after the spuds were affected by blight I thought your troubles were over, nature can be awful sometimes

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    1. Have you seen, Martyn's blog today, David?

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  3. I do hope the onions are usable and that you don't find anything in the bulbs themselves. Pests seem to be on the increase, if one things doesn't get our crops, something else will.

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    1. I hope so too, Jo. There certainly seems to be an increase in baddies.

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  4. What a shame Sue, but I hope the bulbs turn out to be okay. If it's not one thing it's another ;-( .

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    1. Pests and diseases are out in full force this year, Paula

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  5. I empathise totally! These days it hardly seems worth growing anything without protection. It makes you wonder what people used to do in the "old days", before Enviromesh and suchlike was invented. I have little experience with growing Alliums, so I'm afraid I can't help. Like you, I would have expected to see some little creatures lurking in the leaves if this is a pest attack.

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    1. They sprayed and then sprayed some more, Mark. If we wanted to do that nowadays we couldn't as many amateur gardening preparations have disappeared from the market

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  6. How sad. I grow my bulbing onions under a row cover because of the onion maggot. I only started to do that recently, but found it helps so much. I hope whatever killed the leaves didn't affect the bulbs.

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  7. Wow, that is shocking isn't it? I'm glad your onions are a good size though and hope nothing dastardly lurks beneath. How odd not to find any evidence though, mine all died back as well, they were in the front and I hadn't had much time to water them.xxx

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    1. The fact that I didn't find any bugs leaves me hoping that it was something else, Snowbird

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  8. My tops died off early but I'd seen a lot of slugs and snails munching on them? I had mesh over them but it created a nice damp environment for the slugs n snails too especially as we had lots of wet weather up until recently and I wasn't keeping a very good eye on them. But at least it kept off the leek fly moths caterpillars that I've had problems with before.

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    1. Maybe ours just died off early too, Lou - here's hoping. It just happened so suddenly.

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  9. Although I have not grown onions for several years (Our local farm shop sells wonderful cheap tasty onions) and I am completely out of date with new pest and diseases that will not stop me offering a theory!
    The onions got off to an extremely good early start this year with the warm late winter and have made lots of healthy growth. Their internal programming is to die back in long days- and we are well past the longest. Perhaps the very warm weather and drought(?) has speeded up the normal natural process. Your onions look fine to me. better than I have previously grown!
    I have never seen the leaf minor (and don't feel inclined to look for pictures on the net) but I guess it does not look like your picture.
    As you know Sue I am frequently wrong!

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    1. I hope you are right on this occasion, Roger :)

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  10. I have had no experience of this bug Sue...hope when you find the root of the problem its one that is easily remedied.

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    1. I'm hoping it's a one off Tanya

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  11. Oh dear! Luckily you manage to save the onion bulb! I don't plant onion so I don't have any advise for you! I have similar experience with cucumber where all my cucumber died after half way fruiting. The roots were full of worm...... The internet search gave me the pest name.....cucumber rootworm.....sigh.....

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    1. There's always something out to spoil things isn't there Malar?

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  12. Hi Sue. It's certainly not allium leaf miner. Had it been that particular pest you would have had severely contorted growth at a much earlier stage. It looks like a late stage leek moth/onion fly type damage. I had similar damage on leeks last year and on my elephant garlic this year.
    Also, looking closely at the first photo of the crop, when it looked fine, there are some signs of leaf deterioration visible already.

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    1. Hi John and welcome - you have made my day - I think! Leaf miner is worse than leek moth isn't it? :{

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