Woodlice

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Jonathan Smith
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Woodlice

I've got a serious problem with cucumbers at the moment. They've been planted out in my tunnel about 2 weeks, then I noticed some keeling over.

Initially I thought it was root rot, but on closer inspection I noticed the stems above ground were getting chewed through just above ground level. All the vascular tissue is gone, leaving just four 'stringby bits' on the four corners of the stem. Obviously plant keels over pretty quick.

I couldn't quite believe it was woodlice but having seen them crawling all over the stems I know they are the cause of this. Never experienced it before and I do have a lot of woodlice around, every year.

In terms of sorting the problem (and stopping it happening to the replacement plants I'll have to put in later), I'm not sure what to do. I've read about putting traps to collect all the woodlice up and disposing of them, but I think I may just have too many insects to do that with and am not convinced it will work effectively.

I noticed one book said to stop them crawling up pots or benches you can smear grease around the base - is it too mad an idea to smear some grease around the bottom inch or so of the plants?! It seems such a localised problem that a barrier/preventative method would be the most successful. When the plants have got away and the stems toughened up I'm sure it won't be a problem.

Any hard won advice I would very much appreciate as it's a bit of a headache right now...

 

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philsumption
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Toads and spiders

<p>Hi Jonathan,</p><p>Toads are good consumers of woodlice if you can encourage them into the tunnel. They like the environment under black plastic mulch. Also think about the underlying causes.&nbsp; Is it associated with a green waste compost mulch, maybe immature compost? They certainly like to feed on fungi and decaying vegetable matter. Shrews, certain beetles, centipedes, parasitic wasps and spiders are also predators of woodlice. There is one particular spider, (<em>Dysdera crocota</em>) known as the woodlouse hunter, because it is so specifically adapted to capturing its prey. Cultivation before cropping can expose them too.</p>

Oxton Organics
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woodlice

<p>Hi Johnathan</p><p>I had the same problem some years ago. I cut the bottoms of some 1lt pots. and pushed one into the soil (about 3cm) around each plant. I made sure to remove any woodlice that were inside the area. Works a treat, I always use this method when planting Cues, if there is any sign of woodlice about. If you have a lot of woodlice you may want to check the pots as the odd one sometimes gets in but that's all.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

katecollyns
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Tenuous tangent…

<p>Hi guys, slightly tenuous related thought: I was just trying to find out what this caterpillar was: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Large_Yellow_Underwing_Caterpillar.jpg... I found it through some online ident sites, and apparently is a large yellow underwing caterpiller, which is classed one of the 'cutworm' group. I've seen lots of these about, but this one was particularly juicy and fat, soft and kind of leathery; and hiding in my module tunnel. Quote from Wiki: &quot;This is one of the notorious &quot;cutworms&quot;, causing fatal damage at the base of virtually any herbaceous plant, sometimes severing it completely. This ubiquitous species is one of the most hated of garden pests. The species overwinters as a larva and feeds on mild days throughout the winter.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Food includes toms, carrots, lettuce, beet, alliums, rhubarb, strawberry, spinach, potato&hellip; Just hoping that it doesn't cut through my cues when I plant them out next month... anyone had problems with these?</p>

Oxton Organics
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cut worm

<p>Ah yes the underwing larva can be a pain some years. We've found hoeing in dry windy weather to help a little, in small early crops of lettuce I've hunted them out and killed them, they tend to go down the row so you can usually spot which plant it's eating and find it underneath. Birds are the best defence we've got, although I'm should think hedgehog's toads foxes shrews etc find them tasty. So your habitat is crucial to the long term control. An old farmer told me once they don't like it really wet as the swell up and die, I'm not sure about that one. Never had a problem with cutworm on cues, it may be the pot's pushed into the ground act as a barrier to them as well.</p>

katecollyns
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Woodlice again

Hi all,

did anyone come up with any other solutions to this problem? All my early cucumbers & most melons have been eaten by lice the buggers, and they are moving onto the beans now. Never had a problem before, I think it must be a build up of using green waste compost as potting copost, woodchip as paths etc? Someone mentioned using a ground up kind of rock which apparently sticks in their shell but not sure what this is...

Cheers,

Kate

danross79
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woodlice

Hi Kate, the ground up rock is probably diatomecious earth which you could sprinkle round plants. Not sure it's 100% effective but good against red mite in chicken houses

Phelim Knifton
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Prior to this year I had no

Prior to this year I had no idea it was woodlice causing damage to my early beans, I've been out at the right time and seen dozens crawling all over them.

I've heard leaving waste on the surface helps - I have thrown down some outer pak choi leaves around my cucumbers and french beans in order to get them started and it seems to work, although the once the waste dries up the woodlice seem less interested so it needs to be replenished.

I have also left trays on the surface near plants and then gone round several times a day and removing woodlice hiding underneath and, erm, disposing of them, although if you use a lot of woodchip there seems to be an unlimited number living amongst it.

katecollyns
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Thanks Phelim, I grow through

Thanks Phelim, I grow through Mypex which probably doesn't help in terms of places for the buggers to hide; am leaving the doors open more as perhaps the local toads have always helped keep the populations in check up till now... Like the idea of decoy trays though, might give that a go until the plants get away (anyone got any cucumber plants spare??!)

Kate

Jonathan Smith
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Grease

I can't believe I posted this three years ago! Interestingly I've not had much of a woodlice/cucmber problem since...so what's changed? Well possibly using compost that is better rotted - I do think any amount of woodchip gives them a great habitat.

As a word of advice, if the plants make it through the first few weeks the stems toughen up and it no longer becomes a problem, but that's not much help if severe damage kills the plants.

As a last resort you can smear a little grease around the base of the plants (maybe three inches up or so). I used a plant-based bike grease! You really don't need much, but that stops them from attacking. A slow arduous job but could be worth it to save a crop.

Good luck...

P.S. I do grow through plastic, so cultivation techniques not possible. I'm guessing if you don't have plastic or mypex then the problem is minimised as the surface would be drier, therefore less woodlice.

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