Wednesday 19 August 2015
Samples from public could hold the key to unlocking
the secrets of newly discovered midge
Healthy Agapanthus flowerhead and infested Agapanthus flowerhead
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is calling on gardeners to help it learn more about a new insect that is attacking Agapanthus plants.
The pest, which the RHS has named ‘agapanthus gall midge’, can cause deformity and discolouration of the flower buds of the plant, and in some cases cause the flower bud to fail to open. The severity of the effects of this gall midge can range from a couple of buds failing to the collapse of the entire flowerhead.
The tiny agapanthus gall midge lays eggs that develop into maggots inside the individual flower buds or inside the closed flowerheads as they are developing. Infestation can be confirmed by the presence of small maggots, 1–3mm in length, which are a creamy yellow colour.
The RHS was the first organisation to detect the presence of agapanthus gall midge, in Surrey in 2014, through the RHS Gardening Advice service. This midge is established in other parts of southern England and is believed to have been present in the UK for at least two years.
A midge attacking Agapanthus has not previously been described in the UK or abroad, consequently, very little is known about the biology and life cycle of this insect.
RHS scientists anticipate that, by enlisting the help of gardeners, they can acquire more samples of affected Agapanthus to help them learn more about how to combat the pest effectively.
The RHS is asking for samples of Agapanthus flowerheads that may be affected by agapanthus gall midge to be sent to its science team in sealed containers. Photographs of suspect plants will also prove hugely valuable to the team leading the research into this midge.
Speaking about the new pest, RHS Entomologist Dr Hayley Jones says: “We have now confirmed finding of agapanthus gall midge at several locations across the country, so the need to learn more about the life cycle of the insect in order to combat its effects is increasing.
“We really hope that UK gardeners, who are often the first to spot new pests and diseases, join forces with us, Defra and international experts to increase our knowledge of this new and potentially destructive threat to Agapanthus.”
Samples should be sent to: Entomology, RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB. Images, with location information (particularly postcode) that will help the RHS map how widespread agapanthus gall midge is in the UK, can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, visit the RHS website: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=901
Notes to editors
For more information, please contact Ed Horne in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3356 or email email@example.com
About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.
We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.
The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join
RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262