Last of the Berberis sawfly larvae?

I’ve just been in the garden, examining the berberis bush to see if I could see any more Berberis sawfly larvae. I looked and I looked and I looked, and I was on the verge of coming in and reporting that there were no more on the bush, when I spotted one!

It must be a very hardy creature, as it’s survived several frosts now, and blustery winds and driving rain.

Now there are so few larvae on the bush (perhaps only this one!) they are not easy to find at all. Can you spot the larva on this photo that I’ve just taken?

Berberis sawfly larva on our berberis bush, 14.11.06

As you can see, there are many nibbled leaves on this stem. I asked Andrew Halstead at the Royal Horticultural Society in Wisley what damage this nibbling actually did to the plant. This was his reply:

‘The damage caused by the larvae (the adults feed on pollen from various flowers)  is the loss of leaf area. Light infestations will have little impact on the plant, but loss of much of the foliage in early summer, as can happen, will have a greater effect. Defoliated plants can produce a new flush of foliage but the plant is weakened and some shoots may die-back. The plant’s ability to produce flowers and berries next year may be reduced if there has been severe defoliation.’

So, I’ll have to wait till next Spring to see what impact, if any, all this autumn leaf nibbling has had on our berberis.

Find out more about Berberis sawflies (including photos and videos of eggs, larvae and adults) here

Check out Compost! The (mini-)Musical

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