Care - Pests of Laurel

Most types of laurel are relatively pest free, especially once they are established. Damage is generally limited to small plants less than 90cm (3ft) tall or, in the case of vine weevil, to plants grown in pots.  Damage to larger plants tends to be superficial and cosmetic rather than harming the health of the plant.

Vine Weevil

Damage can occur to plants in pots where the larvae of the vine weevil eat the roots of the plant causing the plant to wilt and die. In general, once laurel plants are planted in the soil and establish a good root system, vine weevil larvae will do very little damage to any type of established laurel.

Vine weevil larvae can be identified as they are white maggots with a black head approximately 1 to 2cm long and they tend to curl up into a C-shape.

Adult vine weevil emerge in the summer months (July/August) and can notch the edges of the leaves of all types of laurel (and many other plants) but particularly Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). However, this is just cosmetic damage and an indication that vine weevil are present. Adult vine weevil are usually only seen at night.

Control

Only plants in pots need to be treated for vine weevil.

Chemical Control

Drench the compost of the plant with either Provado Vine Weevil Killer 2 or Bug Clear Ultra Vine Weevil Killer.

Biological Control

Nematodes can be used to control vine weevil. Products such as Nemasys are available and should be applied in spring (April/May) or late summer (late August/early September) when the larvae are active in the soil or compost. The nematodes are mixed with water and the compost is then drenched with the nematodes. The nematodes will attack the vine weevil larvae and should kill them within a few weeks.  The nematode Steinernema kraussei is most effective and as it will tolerate lower temperatures (down to -5oC) than other nematodes available.

Slugs

Slugs can cause damage by eating the edges of the leaves of laurel. The damage is superficial and will not harm the overall health of the plant.

Control

Slugs only need to be controlled on smaller plants. Once laurel plants are established, control is not necessary.

Chemical Control

Slug pellets can be used to effectively control slugs. Products containing Ferramol (Growing Success Advanced Slug Killer or Vitax Slug Rid) are much less harmful to wildlife such as birds and hedgehogs than products containing metaldehyde.

Biological Control

Nematodes can be used to control slugs. Products such as Nemaslug are available should be mixed with water and applied following the manufacturer's instructions.

Rabbits

Rabbits can do a lot of damage to young laurel plants by stripping the plant of its leaves.

They do not tend to be a problem once the plant has become established and is above a height that rabbits can reach, this height is usually about 1 to 1.2 metres tall (3-4ft).

Control

Rabbits are difficult to control. The best method is to fence off the hedge with chicken wire until the hedge is established.

Alternatively, products such as Grazer claim to stop rabbits eating plants sprayed with the product. However, heavy rain can wash Grazer off the leaves and it may need to be reapplied regularly.

Bay Sucker

Bay sucker, as the name suggests, only attacks Bay Laurel and not Cherry or Portugal Laurel.

The nymphs of a tiny insect can infect Bay Laurel and suck sap from the leaves causing them to curl and discolour.

It is not a serious disease but can spoil the look of some of the leaves.

Small white/grey insects may be seen on the bottom side of the leaf or near where the leaf is curled up.

Control

Spray with a systemic insecticide.

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