Organic Controls for Garden Pests

Pest Identification - in the soil

Whether or not you can find root damage, you should be looking for any "grubs" that could be fattening themselves on the underground parts of your plant. Even if they are dormant because they are hibernating, they will wake up in spring and start feeding. Not all things that look like "grubs" are actually bad news - some of them eat other creatures rather than eating plant material. And some creatures are just sheltering underground in one of the stages of their life cycle. The four that you need to look out for are: vine weevil, sciarid, chafer bug and leatherjacket. Here are some clues as to how to distinguish them..

Appearance Haunts Picture What is it?
Creamy-white larvae, about 1.5 cm (half inch) long with brown heads. They often lie in a sort of "C" shape, and look almost like a very fat short caterpillars. Look for the brown head. In plant pots. Also outside attacking rhododendrons, viburnum, fuschias, and other shrubs Vine Weevil Larva which hatches into a vine weevil black beetle
Tiny, tiny threadworms almost invisible to the naked eye. Glistening white - you won't be able to see the details unless you have a microscope, but they have black heads, Potting compost - on or near the surface. They may be seen worming their way into seeds or roots. Sciarid Larva which hatches into a Sciarid Fly
Looks like a cross between a worm and the "michelin man"! long, greyish black segmented body, typically about 2.5cm (1 inch) long. legless and with no distinct head. In the winter the outside skin thickens to provide a protective shell. Often shelters underground in borders or lawns. Can be found in compost heaps. Leatherjacket which hatches into a Crane Fly (Daddy Long Legs)
Somewhat similar to vine weevil larvae, but can be distinguished by the long front legs and the bulge at the back. Typically found under lawns, where it eats the roots. Chafer Bug which hatches into a Chafer beetle, also known as Cockchafer or Maybug