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 fact sheets - Chewing Pests

These are caterpillars, leaf eating beetles, grubs, grasshoppers and borers. When observing the leaves you will notice holes or a portion of the leaf eaten away. Holes in tree trunks or branches, stems, bark off trees and shrubs can be eaten including growth buds, flower buds and fruit. It is important that the problem is dealt with as soon as possible before the damage is irreparable. The problem will also multiply to a great magnitude where costly and substantial spraying may be needed.



These pests bore holes into the trunks and branches of trees and shrubs causing them to die and in most cases a slow death. Trees become weak and the branches or even the whole tree will fall to the ground.

These can easily be recognised by the presence of sawdust which has been ejected from the branch or trunk.

Cut away all damaged or dead bark until you reach the perimeter of the wound which consists of live healthy bark. Fill a syringe with measured insecticide, inject into the borer holes. Plug up the holes with putty or plastic wood.



These are pests that come out during the night and munch away at our favourite garden plants. They are sometimes found coming into old homes where there is a lot of dampness around such as laundries etc.

Earwigs come in shades of brown or black with the distinction of thick curved pincers or forceps at the end of their bodies. They accumulate in leaf litter and other debris on the ground, in bark gardens, rock piles or stone retaining walls, under timber and in leafy material like Elkhorn plants or where it is dark and moist. They like to crawl into very small places where their bodies are touched by the surroundings. Earwigs feed on a wide range of living or dead plant and animal material. They chew vegetables, ornamentals, dahlias, flowers, buds and fruit.Often people find that the buds of roses, gardenias etc are lying on the ground and with closer inspection the stem below the bud has been chewed through.

Keep any areas that they might be concealed or breeding in free from rubbish.

Roll up sheets of corrugated cardboard or crumple up newspaper and pack into flower pots and then place in areas where you have found earwigs active. The material containing the insects can then be destroyed. Check the material every couple of days and place the infested material in a container of soapy water.


SlatersThese are pests that most people either panic about or ignore their presence.

These wood lice, jointed creatures which have numerous legs, grow up to about 1 cm long. They live in damp compost and areas where there is decaying wood. Their main food supply is young shoots and soft root tips. They are known to chew young seedling off at ground level. They cause problems with Tree Ferns, Elk and Stag Horns where they feed on the young aerial root tips and they are very fond of Epiphytic Orchids.

The most common garden slaters are the Porcellio Scaber, which has a hard shell and comes in a range of colours from grey, brown or yellowish-orange speckled with black. The adults are 9 -15 mm in size and are flat and oval in shape.
They are not insects but crustaceans which are related to lobsters and prawns.
The common pillbug (Armadilidium Vulgare) is a similar species, is almost dark black and rolls into a circle when disturbed.

They can be controlled by removing their breeding sites (rotting timber, decaying vegetation matter etc) or sprinkling Naphthalene Flakes, Baysol Snail Bait or LAWN GRUBS, LAWN BEETLE GRUBS AND SLATER KILLER or BAN ANT



Snails and slugs would have to be one of our gardens worst enemies. They are prolific breeders and devour the soft green foliage of seedlings and young plants at a rapid rate.
Snails will climb up citrus trees and eat the new growth tips and leaves. They have been known to ring bark fresh young planted citrus trees.

When the European explorers first came to Australia, one of the first things to catch their attention was the strangeness of the animal life. The kangaroo, platypus, lyre-bird and kookaburra are all unique to Australia, caused by long isolation from the rest of the world, even the rest of the fauna, like the beetles, worms, and of course, the snail. Because of the variation from desert to tropical rain forest, there are almost 600 species of native snails. In the large desert areas with low rainfall, long hot dry periods and sparse, harsh vegetation, the snails that live under these conditions can stay dormant for years under piles of loose stones or vegetation and can become active and lay eggs as soon as the rain comes.

There are carnivorous snails which prey on other snails, earthworms and insect larvae, but they only survive in wet forests. The main concern for us is the common garden snail in South Australia which eats our garden to shreds.

Slugs not only cause trouble in the garden but find their way into the house or the garden shed. There is nothing worse than finding your prized mushroom half eaten away by these slimy creatures.

Just before or as soon as the rain arrives the snails are most active. Sprinkle snail bait around under the bushes, wallings and rock outcrops where they hide.
Here are a few baits you might like to use; Baysol, Blitzem and Multiguard, snail & slug killers.

Animal and children protection method:-
If you are concerned about animals and children eating the bait, how about distributing dried orange skins with snail bait placed inside, around the garden.Citrus with Snail Bait This can be executed during the evening after you have locked the animals up for the night. The orange shells containing bait can then be picked up and put away before the animals and the children come outside to play in the morning.

Cut oranges in halves and squeeze out the juice. Place the half shell skins in a well, ventilated place to dry out. To store them use paper bags with small holes punched in the sides for ventilation.

This is a clay dome with holes in the side to let the slugs and snails crawl through to the bait which is placed underneath. The tent peg is used to help the dome down. This method is ideal for cats and small dogs.
PLEASE NOTEThis would not be suitable for children and larger types of dogs, as they would be able to lift the dome up.

While you are tucked away in your nice warm house, they are outside in armies devouring the garden.
When planting new seedlings always make sure that you place some snail bait around the tender, tasty young plants.



Perga dorsalis (steelblue sawfly)


This Sawfly species belongs to a group known as sawflies and despite their common name they are are not flies.Steel Blue Sawfly They belong to the same order as wasps, ants and bees and lack the conventional 'wasp waist' and unlike many other wasps, they do not sting. They are called sawflies because the female is provided with a saw-like ovipositor, which she manipulates to saw small slits in the leaves into which she deposits her eggs.

After hatching, the larvae remain together in the same group during the day and then spread out over the tree to feed at night. This is one type of a cluster of caterpillars that look like something left over from last night's nightmare. After they have filled their hungry appetites they reassemble for the next day. This cycle continues until they mature. A small tree with several larval groups can be seriously damaged. They leave the tree when fully fed and pupate in the soil. If the clusters of larvae are disturbed, they wave their bodies up and down and exude a thick yellowish fluid. It is this action that gives them their common name of 'spitfires'. This strong smelling liquid consists predominantly of eucalyptus oil which is used as a discouragement against predators.
The larvae are brownish red to begin with but darken to black with age.
When steelblue sawfly larvae are develop they move onto the ground, tunnelling into the soil where they pupate in a silken cocoon. They remain in the ground during summer and the fully matured sawflies emerge in Autumn to reproduce and lay their eggs.
Plants that are attacked are Eucalyptus.

To control these pests is not a great problem. If possible, prune off a small branch with the group of larvae attached, or if they are on larger branches, spray the group and the surrounding leaves with LIQUID CARBARYL (CARBARYL SHOULD NOT BE USED NEAR OR ON FOOD PRODUCING PLANTS) or MALATHION or SHARP SHOOTER PYRETHRUM to kill these pests. Make sure you always read and follow the instructions on the label of the container.



Heteronchus arator
Black Beetle Larvae
(Click on picture for larger image)

The Black Beetle attacks lawns and are frequently referred to as the Black Lawn Beetle. This beetle was first recorded in Australia during the 1920s and originates from Southern Africa where it is a major pest of the maize plant.

The adult African Black Beetle is shiny black and 10-13 cm long. The female lays her eggs in spring and take three weeks to hatch. The larvae (grub) grow up to 2.5 cm long and 6 mm wide. They have a white or cream coloured body with a hard brown head. They are often called 'curl grubs' because when they are resting they are C shaped. They have three pairs of legs on the thorax, a prominent brown head with black jaws. The abdomen is swollen; baggy and grey/blue-green, due to the food and soil they have eaten. (See photo above). The larvae, when fully grown, enters a short-lived pupal stage. It is when the beetle is in its larval stage that it does most of its damage, feeding on the roots of the lawn and emerging to the lawn surface and then burrowing down again leaving dirt mounds which cause surface irregularities in the lawn. The larvae are active from mid spring until late autumn, preferring soils that are well drained. Only one generation of African black beetle are produced each year. During the winter months they are very active feeding as they are non reproductive adult beetles. During spring the adults mate, lay eggs and increase in the moving activity of the beetles takes place. These adults die by the end of early summer.
The eggs incubate into grubs during late spring and summer and the adults and young lavae keep together. The beetle larvae feed on organic matter in the soil during the early stages and plant roots as they develop. The larval stage is present from mid spring to late summer and then they change into pupae. A new generation of adults start to emerge from mid summer to early autumn. Adults feed wherever they are but more in summer months as the young adults emergence. Adults may undertake mass flights on warm sultry nights in late summer/autumn. Their light activity also occurs in spring, but numbers of beetles involved is much less.

October can be a critical month for lawns when an infestation of grubs, beetles etc, begin to hatch.
Beetle(click photo for larger picture)
Use Lawn Beetle Blitz or a safe product such as Lawn Grub Killer to control these pests and this product will also kill ants, African Black Beetle, Earwigs, Millipedes, Slaters and many more.
A very easy way of checking if grubs are eating your lawn, is if the dead grass comes away easy as you try and pull it up. This is usually a good indication that something is chewing away below the ground. Additionally, if birds are flocking to your lawn, it is also an indication that something is happening below the lawn turf at the root level.



Cydia pomonella

The Codling Moth originated in Asia Minor. It was transported into Europe by invading migrants and from this point was distributed to all apple growing areas of the world. The Codling Moth larva is one of the very destructive pests introduced to Australia from Europe. Female moths lay the scale-like eggs singly on developing fruit or adjacent leaves or stems just after sundown each night.

Codling Moth is the most serious insect pest of apples, pears and is found in quince, peach, plum and cherry.
It is less important on walnuts, plums, and other stone fruit. The moth has a wingspan of 1.3 to 2 cm. The tip of each forewing has a copper-tinged, dark brown band that distinguishes this moth from others found in orchards. The females lay eggs singularly on leaves or, later in the season, on fruit. The eggs are tiny, smaller than a pinhead, and opaque white when first laid. Just before the eggs hatch, the black heads of the larvae become visible. Freshly hatched larvae are white with black heads and the mature larvae are 1.3 to 2 cm long with pinkish white with mottled brown heads.
The Codling Moth passes the winter as a full-grown larva in diapause ( in a winter resting stage) inside a thick, silken cocoon. These larvae are pinkish white caterpillars with brown heads and are approximately 3/4 inch long. They usually spin their cocoons under loose bark on the trunks of apple trees, under shelters about the base of the trees, or on the ground nearby. They may overwinter in and around sheds or in wood heaps. They remain dormant through the winter and are capable of withstanding cold temperatures. During the winter birds will find and kill a substantial number of these larvae. In mid-spring, the larvae change inside their cocoons to a dark brown pupal stage. After two to four weeks, grayish adult moths will emerge from these pupae.

The Codling Moth can cause two types of damage: stings and deep entries. Stings are entries where larvae bore a short distance into the flesh before dying. The deep entries occur when larvae penetrate the fruit skin, bore into the core, and feed into the seed cavity. Larvae may enter the sides, stem end, or calyx end of the fruit. One or more holes plugged with frass on the fruit's surface is a characteristic sign of codling moth infestation. Entries into the calyx are often difficult to detect without cutting into the fruit.

CARBARYL insecticide spray used to control Codling moth. Begin spraying after petals fall and repeat at three weekly intervals. Do not apply earlier than three weeks after petals fall as fruit thinning may occur. It remains effective for 14 to 21 days, but it is very disruptive to natural enemies as well as honey bees.
Once the worm has gone into the fruit or nut, it is then protected from pesticides.

Use flowering parsnips, fennel and dill to attract predatory wasps. Encourage your neighbours to reduce Codling moth on their trees.
Prune lofty, overly close-packed tree tops and thin out the branches to improve spray coverage. Hand remove all infested fruit as well as fruit which have fallen onto the ground. Do not bury or compost, but destroy the fruit.

Traps can be used with other strategies in integrated pest management.
PHEROMONE TRAPPING uses chemical lures to attract male moths. The chemical lures are synthetic copies of the chemicals female moths use to attract males for mating. These traps contain a sticky base which the moth becomes entrapped.
Traps should be put out at the pink stage of bud development. Every month, pheromone lures need to be replaced. This involves using enough pheromone traps such that all of the male moths are captured before the female moths mate. Female moths are then able to lay only unfertilized eggs that will not develop. Hang the traps at head height in a well-ventilated position within the trees canopy.

A traditional, nonchemical control for codling moth is to trap mature larvae in a cardboard band as they climb the trunk seeking a place to pupate.
Cut a 10cm-wide strip of large-core corrugated cardboard which is smooth on one side and has wavy, 1cm wide corrugations (size A flutes) on the other. Wrap it around the trunk with the corrugated side snug against the tree and the corrugations pointed in a vertical direction. Place it on the smoothest part of the trunk about 45cm or more from the ground and staple the band to the tree. Once the larvae is inside, remove and destroy the bands to kill any larvae and pupae trapped inside.


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