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Blackfly, Greenfly, Brownfly, all come under the catergory of aphids. They attack nearly everything that grows in our gardens. These sap sucking insect pests distort buds, flowers and leaves. They multiply so quickly that unless you act as soon as you see them, you will have an infestation within days. Any of the normal systemic insecticides will kill them, but vary the types at each spray as they quickly build up a resistance if you keep to one brand. If you would prefer not to use chemicals then plant nectar rich plants in your garden to attract natural predators such as Hoverfly's, or make or buy Lacewing shelters (where the adults overwinter). The larvae of lacewings are another good predator of aphids. There is also the option of using soft soap formulations such as "Stergene", or "Naturen" which is based on rape seed oil, but you will have to read the instructions because the latter can cause leaf damage to certain plants.


Bees are dependent on pollen as a protein source and on flower nectar or oils as an energy source. Adult females collect pollen primarily to feed their larvae. The pollen they inevitably lose in going from flower to flower is important to plants because some pollen lands on the pistils (reproductive structures) of other flowers of the same species, resulting in cross-pollination. Bees are, in fact, the most important pollinating insects. Female bees, like many other hymenopterans, have a defensive sting. Some like the leaf cutter bee can be a nuisance in the garden as they seem to pick one particular plant. Although they do no real damage, they can make the plant they choose look very untidy, particularly if that plant were destined for a show. The leaf cutter bee's work can be distinguished from vine weevil by the neatness of the cut, being a complete half circle, whereas the vine weevil makes a more jagged edged cut. It is certain though in general the bee is definitely a good friend.


Capsid bugs belong to the order Hemiptera, sub order Heteroptera. Capsid bugs are closely associated to leafhoppers. They attack the small growing tips which causes severe distortion, and in some cases, blindness resulting in the loss of flower buds. The common green capsid, Lygacaris pubulinus attacks many different plants, including fuchsia's. There are over 200 species of capsid bug in the British Isles alone. Spray regularly with a systemic insecticide at the first sign of attack. Definitely a foe!


Caterpillar's are the larval stage of butterflies and moths. I'm not sure whether to call them friend or foe, because as caterpillar's they can be pests, but when they turn into beautiful butterflies how can you count them as such. Members of the order Lepidoptera, this phase corresponds in this special order to the grub, maggot or larva phase in the life history of other insects. The caterpillar develops like any other larva from the segmented egg and differentiating embryo and undergoes several moltings. It later falls into a quiescent pupa stage, and the pupa is normally sheathed in a silken cocoon. It may be fixed or free, suspended by one thread or more to a leaf or branch, or hidden underground. Very few of the caterpillar's will reach maturity. Many are destoyed by weather, by birds, reptiles and other animals, and insects such as Ichneumon wasps and ground beetle's. Ichneumon wasps pierce the caterpillar's and make them receptacles for their eggs and, later, edible cradles for their larvae. You will need to make up your own mind as to whether they are "Friend or Foe".


Centipede, the common name for the members of the arthropod phylum. The centipedes are long, segmented animals with jointed appendages and a poisonous bite. Centipedes are often confused with millipedes, which constitute a separate class, covered in another article. The centipede body is devided into well-marked segments, the number of which varies from 12 to more than 100. The head, which is covered by a flat shield above, bears a pair of antennae, usually of considerable length, a pair of small, strong, toothed and bristly mandibles, and a pair of underjaws, usually with palps. The next limblike appendages are followed by a modified pair of legs with strong joints, terminating in a sharp claw into which a poison gland opens. Most centipedes measure about 2.5 to 5cm (about 1 - 2 inches) in length. They are one of our friends in the garden, preying on many of the pests that plague us. As opposed to the Millipedes they are fast moving, so if it runs away let it go, it will almost certainly be a centipede.


Earwig, common name for any member of an order of nocturnal insects found throughout the world. Earwigs are small, slender, and dark coloured. They have pairs of horny, forcepslike abdominal appendages, which are larger in males than in females. Most species are winged but they seldom fly. They live under the decayed bark of trees, under stones and in old straw, and feed chiefly upon flowers and ripe fruit. Earwigs were so named because of the erroneous belief that they sometimes creep into human ears. They are completely harmless to humans but are known to transmit virus diseases that affect plants. One simple way of catching them is to put an upturned flower pot filled with straw either on a cane in the garden, or on to the shelving of a greenhouse. Earwigs will hide in this and can be disposed of of each morning. For insecticides use a Gamma BHC dust, sprinkled over the compost of the plants being affected. Also I suppose considered a foe, they don't really do a lot of damage, just a few holes here and there.


The fungus gnat, or scariad fly, is in itself not a problem. You will see the tiny black flies walking across the top of the compost, mainly of pot plants, fluttering their tiny wings. Although they are unsightly and can be a nuisance when numbers build up it is the larvae, the tiny almost transparent maggots that do the damage. They feed on dead and decaying matter in the soil, along with tiny roots. This can be a problem with cuttings or seeds, but rarely causes any problems to established plants. Make sure that the compost is not overwatered and spray/water with malathion. As with other pests fine gravel on top of the pots acts as a deterrent. Another foe.


Ground beetle, common name for swift-running, often carnivorous beetles. Ground beetles live under rocks or in moist or sandy soil, from which they get their name. Many ground beetles do not fly. The slender legs are well developed for swift running. These beetles are most often unmarked black or brown; several species have wing cases that are striped or bordered with metallic blue, green or bronze. The head of the ground beetle is narrower than its body, long thin threadlike antennae jut out from the sides of its head. The mouthparts are adapted for crushing and eating insects, slugs and snails. The largest ground beetles are 2.5cm (1 inch) or more in length. The larvae of the ground beetles have well developed legs and mouthparts, are also carnivorous, and live underground. Ground beetles destroy many harmful insects such as the browntail moth and cutworms. A few ground beetles are considered harmful, some species feed on seeds and strawberries, but in general they are one of our friends in the garden.


Mimicry occurs throughtout the insect world, producing many flies that are difficult to distinguish between bees and wasps. The more successful the mimicry, the better their chance of survival. The hoverflies are one of these superbly adapted mimics. Birds see the black and yellow markings as a danger signal and leave them alone. The adult hoverflies feed on pollen and nectar, but the larva are superb predators of aphids, consuming large amounts during their devolpment into adults. The most common, in all parts of Great Britain, is Syrphus ribesii. They are usually easy to tell apart from wasps by their hovering flight and if you hold your hand steady in front of them they will land. Plant nectar rich plants in your garden to attract these real garden friends.


Lacewings are among the natural predators of aphids. The adults, which can be either green (Chrysoperla carnea) or brown (Kimminsia subnebulosa), consume large numbers of aphids, as do the larva. Although you will see them occasionally flying they are not the best exponents of flight with a rather cumbersome motion. They are very distinct with their transparent wings and golden eyes. Both the adults and larva suck the fluids from their victims through mandibles. Many lacewings overwinter in the British Isles and "lacewing boxes" can be made, or purchased, for this purpose. A definite friend.


Ladybirds (genus Coccinellidae), both adult and larva, are another common predator of aphids. Many overwinter in the British Isles, but large migrations of European ladybirds often occur. The main feature of ladybirds is their distinct red colouration with black spots on the wing casings, which ranges from two spots up to twenty four spots. The most common species within the British Isles is the seven spot ladybird. Although normally red with black spots several species are slightly different having a yellow colouration with black spots, or black with red or yellow spots. Another true friend.


Millipedes, any of about 1000 species of cylindrical, many-legged arthropods. Millipedes have segmented bodies with two pairs of legs on each of the 9 to 100 or more abdominal segments, depending on the species, and one pair on three of the four thoracic segments. Because of their numerous legs the animal walks slowly with a wavelike motion of the legs down the body. In length they range from about 0.2cm to 23cm (about 0.1 to 9 inches). Millipedes have a hard protective layer of calcium-containing chitin (except in some small species), two simple eyes, one pair of mandibles, two short antennae, and (in most species) stink glands with secretions that repel or kill insect predators. Another protective strategy is to curl into a spiral or a ball when threatened. They live in dark, damp places and feed on decaying plant life, but they may damage seedlings. So as opposed to the centipede, these should be considered more of a pest and disposed of if seen.


The snail is a terrestrial species of mollusc. Gastropod (literally, belly footed animal). Snails move by means of a wavelike series of muscular contractions along the bottom of the foot, and, in land snails, by a track of laid-down slime. Snails feed mainly on algae and decaying matter but will also attack growing plants. Some carnivorous snails have radulae that bore holes through the shells of other molluscs to reach the soft flesh. Many species of snails are hermaphroditic and capable of self fertilisation. Slugs are also a gastropod mollusc, related to snails, but without the shell which is represented by a horny plate overlying the respiratory cavity. Slugs are vegetation eaters and often ascend trees in search of food. They may do extensive damage to cultivated plants and are particularly damaging in greenhouses. Both are a serious pest to gardeners and are definitely considered an out and out foe.


Its strange that our greatest friend in the garden, causes so much fear to so many people. The average garden plays host to thousands of these beneficial creatures. It is estimated that the number of pests they destroy is equal to the weight of the entire human population - so just think where we would be without them. They range in Britain from the tiny jumping spider to the large house variety that we see running across the carpet in the late Autumn. Their hunting techniques are as varied as their size and shape, from the common orb web, through the wolf spider that we find stalking it pray on the flower beds, to the little jumping spider. whatever shape or form they take, and even if you cannot stand the sight of them, please don't kill them. They really are our greatest friends.


Wasps include the Sawflies, and the parasitic wasps. Wasps are highly important to ecosystems. Although Sawflies consume vegetation, most other wasps are either parasitic or predaceous and therefore play a vital role in limiting the populations of thousands of other insect species. All wasps are eaten by other species, thereby providing many links in the food chain. Many parasitic wasps have been cultured and used in the biological control of agricultural pests, such as the ones that are used to control Whitefly. Although a few of the stinging wasps are considered a nuisance, they also provide benefits. Yellow jackets and paper wasps, for example, prey on caterpillar's and other larvae that can destroy crops. They can often be seen hunting Craneflys on warm Autumn evenings. Wasps also feed on flower nectar and play a role in pollination. So it could be said, in general, that wasps are more friend than foe and that we should forgive them a bit when they come after our jam sandwiches when we are having a picnic.


Whitefly (Aleurodina) are small sap sucking insects that live on a variety of plants, including fuchsia's. They, and their larval stage, live on the undersides of leaves. The first you may know of an attack is the appearance of the sticky honey-dew on the upper surface of lower leaves and the clouds of these small moth-like flies. Regular spraying with systemic insecticides, which are rotated, can help but as with other pests immunity can soon be built up. The white fly adults coat themselves with a wax-like secretion, that is exuded from glands on their abdomens, which also acts as a protection against pesticides. Soft soap, "Stergene", is another alternative to chemicals, and a tiny predatory wasp, Encarsia formosa, can be used as a solution in greenhouses. The wasp lays its egg in the developing larva, which turns black, and the young wasp emerges from the eaten embryo. Another solution for greenhouses is to place yellow sticky sheets around, just above the plants, which will attract and collect whitefly. Another serious foe.


Woodlice are not, as most people think, beetles but are in fact terrestrial crustaceans, their nearest relatives are crabs or lobsters. They are characterised by a flattended body, fused abdominal segments and seven pairs of legs. The respiratory organs are completely enfolded by perforated plates. Also known as sowbugs they are common in many regions of the world. Found frequently in most gardens, they live under rocks or in other damp places and feed on decaying animal or vegetable matter. They also sometimes feed on living plants and can become agricultural pests. Some varieties, known as pillbugs, are capable of rolling themselves into a ball when disturbed. The species vary in colour from grey to black. They can be controlled by using BHC Gamma dust sprinkled near to where you find them. Clearing up all dead and decaying matter in the garden is a better idea in keeping their numbers down. In a greenhouse place upturned flower pots on the staging, they will hide under these during daylight where they can be found and destroyed. Another foe.


The economic significance of ants as pests is difficult to judge. Carpenter ants, which are considered destructive to wood, actually may contribute to forest economy by hastening the breakdown and recycling of timber previously infested by other insects. Also, seed-gathering ants may be destructive to agriculture when they become excessively numerous around grain fields or storage centres, but they also may supress beetles and other grain pests. Ants such as aphid tending species are frequent pests around lawns and gardens; however, the great benefit of these and other ants in aerating and mixing soil also must be considered. Ants such as aphid, driver and army ants are efficient exterminators of other, more damaging insects, and in some regions are temporarily allowed to enter human dwelling to clean up such pests. Most of the worst pest ants are ecologically displaced species that thrive in disturbed or artificial habitats created by humans. So are they friend or foe? I will leave it up to you to decide.

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