Gardening expert shares how wasps can help stop caterpillars ‘devastating’ your crops

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Britons’ appetite for gardening has surged during the coronavirus pandemic, with data from the app Readly revealing a 104 percent increase in interest in their gardening section. YouGov has also shown that 28 percent of Britons have become more interested in gardening over the past year, with 60 percent of individuals saying they have planted vegetables or herbs and 65 percent of people saying they have potted plants of flowers. With summer just around the corner, now is as good a time as any to get out in the garden and start planting.

For those looking to brush up on their gardening knowledge or acquire a new skill, Readly’s digital subscription service has a magazine or gardening article to suit every need.

Speaking on behalf of Readly to Express.co.uk, gardening designer Chris Beardshaw shared his expert advice for naturally “cleansing” your garden of pests.

Chris, who is also a regular panel member on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time, explained how birds and even wasps can help control pests.

The gardening expert said wasps can help keep unwanted cabbage white caterpillars at bay which can potentially devastate brassica crops.

Brassica crops include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage rutabaga, and turnips.

You will often find cabbage white caterpillars on your brassica crops from late spring through to autumn as the adult butterflies lay their eggs from May to June.

Chris explained why wasps may be beneficial in controlling the caterpillars.

He said: “Wasps, at this time of the year, when they’re feeding their young, are hugely beneficial and each nest of wasps will extract extraordinary amounts of caterpillars.

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“So, if you’re growing brassicas, don’t waft the wasps away because actually the cabbage white caterpillars that can devastate a crop of brassicas, are the very thing that wasps are in pursuit of.

“It’s only a bit later on in the year when they get a bit petulant, that you have to worry about them.

“Even things that we think are pests themselves, are also beneficial in the garden structure.”

“You can’t have a beautiful garden without having pests in it because the pests are attracting the very thing that keeps beautiful garden going,” he added.

Chris also said Blue Tits, Blackbirds and Thrushes can help control pests.

Putting fat balls up in the trees or in areas where you have aphids such as near rose bushes can help encourage Blue Tits which will eat the aphids.

“They are great to have in the garden,” Chris added.

“Leave a stone or an upturned pot or something like that for a Thrush to wield some heavy thuds of snail shell against and you’ll find that when you go down, after a day or so, there’s plenty of little piles of crushed snail shells.

“The Thrush has been hopping amongst the beds and borders, picking all of the snails off.

“Whereas the Blackbirds of course prefer the slugs and will go in pursuit of those.”

To encourage Blackbirds and Thrushes, Chris recommended putting some feed out on the ground for them.

This will also help encourage them to delve into your flower beds and pick out the slugs and snails.

Readly is a digital subscription app is a great source of inspiration for your garden, with unlimited reading to over 5,000 magazines and newspapers including The Daily Express and top gardening titles such as BBC Gardeners’ World, Modern Gardens and The English Garden.

Readly is giving two months of unlimited reading from May 17 to May 31, 2021, £7.99 a month thereafter.

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