Kate Hardy

Get rid of garden pests

Kate Hardy
Lily beetle

Karen Murphy counts down the top garden pests you need to watch out for in your garden

Every year, the Royal Horticultural Society brings out a list of the most common garden pests mentioned by their members. It’s like the Top of the Pops chart of the pest world! The list differs most years, depending on the weather we’ve had or fluctuating temperatures, but certain critters appear in the Top Ten every year! Most pests will be out in force already, so it’s best to get on top of them before your plants succumb. 

In at No.5 is a monster-munching bug whose prettiness belies the damage it does – the Red Lily Beetle. If you’ve ever had them you’ll likely be wary of growing lilies, as they tend to eat away all the foliage. They’re easy to spot and should be picked off regularly.

Cabbage White Caterpillars, the large mottled brown and yellow offspring of cabbage white butterflies, are at No.4. Long-detested brassica eaters, they are large enough to spot and pick off and the eggs on the undersides of leaves can be rubbed off, too. Net your crop well so the butterflies can’t get through, but if they sneak in and manage to infest, Bayer Provado spray, which can be used on veg plants, will help.

Aphids are high up the list at No.3. Not only do they suck plant sap, they transmit diseases around the garden and greenhouse. Squash them wherever you see them clustering around shoot tips and encourage birds, bats and ladybirds to eat them by planting a wide range of flowers. For awful swarms, use Provado or Bug Clear Ultra sparingly.

At No.2 is Vine Weevil, prevalent in many gardens. The white grubs eat plant roots before transforming into adults that chew all the foliage of the same plant. If you find you can pick up a whole plant from a container – heucheras or sedums, for example – by its leaves and it comes away clean with no roots, it’s likely to be vine weevil. Pick off the brown-black adults if you see them, but prevention is better than cure where they’re concerned. In late summer, try to stop a new generation by applying nematodes to your watering can and water in well. Or add diluted Bug Clear Ultra to potted plants to kill any new eggs. 

At No.1 are Slugs and Snails. Nematodes, traps, barriers and egg shells can work, but I’ve had most success with pellets and picking them off. Here’s to a pest-free summer!

3 of the best... plants to deter pests

1 Alliums


Rabbits tend to prefer new, young, easy-to-reach plants to eat, unlike tall alliums

2 Euphorbia

Slugs hate sappy, gnarly leaves – so they’ll steer clear of euphorbias


3 Lonicera etrusca

In trials a few years ago, it was found that Etruscan honeysuckle repels aphids.

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  • Karen writes for Garden News magazine which is packed full of tips, inspiration, plant and product news and great money-saving offers! On sale every Tuesday or subscribe and try your first 4 issues for just £1 – Call 080858 438884 and quote YFIG, or visit www.greatmagazines.co.uk/YFIG. T&Cs apply.