Pests on the plot!
Working on the allotment around the orchard area, the fruit tree blossom looked fantastic, and it was good to know that they’re all doing well despite the fact that we had to move many of them. But then we spotted lots of ladybirds on the damson tree, and we knew trouble was brewing…
The damson tree is covered in plum leaf-curling aphids, which is why the ladybirds are so happy! Unfortunately, there are nowhere near enough predators feasting on the aphids to make much impact on them, and all the leaves are curled and misshapen.
This aphid lays its eggs around buds and in nooks and crannies of the bark, and the eggs overwinter before hatching in spring. In April and May your tree is overwhelmed by the little critters, and all the leaves are affected, although later leaves should be ok.
We’ll probably just have to put up with them this year, although you can spray the leaves with soapy water to wash the aphids off. Apart from ladybirds, earwigs are also partial to aphids, so we can encourage them by providing earwig-friendly habitats like small, hay-filled mini beast houses in the tree.
We should get a crop of damsons though, and at least the ladybirds are happy!