What are fuchsia gall mites?
Aculops fuchsiae, the fuchsia gall mite was discovered in Brazil in the 1970s and subsequently spread to, among other places, California, France, Germany and the Channel Islands reaching southern Britain in 2007. So far attacks seem to be concentrated in gardens in coastal counties in South West and South East England. That said, there was a siting in Cheshire in 2017.
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How to spot fuchsia gall mites?
Fuchsia gall mites are too small to see with the naked eye but the damage caused to buds and flowers should make their presence obvious.
What plants are at risk?
All fuchsias, growing both indoors and outside, are at risk though these varieties seem to be the most affected Fuchsia arborescens, F. magellanica and F. procumbens. According to the RHS the following are the least affected: 'Baby Chang', 'Cinnabarina', 'Miniature Jewels', 'Space Shuttle', Fuchsia microphylla subsp. hidalgensis, Fuchsia thymifolia and Fuchsia venusta.
What damage do fuchsia gall mites cause?
As gall mites suck the soft plant sap their secretions deposit chemicals that affect the growth of shooting tips and flowers. These become grossly swollen, distorted and discoloured turning a yellowish or pinkish brown. In time the affected plant will be unable to produce any normal leaves or flower buds.
How to get rid of fuchsia gall mites
You can try cutting off affected stems but as the mites are microscopic the chances are pretty high that you won’t get them all. Better instead to remove the whole plant and then burn or bury the material.
Alternatively bin the plant in your local council green waste. If in doubt do call your council to check that they can dispose of this safely.
Garden chemical sprays available to home gardeners will not work.
It’s not all bad news
It is hoped – but not yet proven – that the gall mites, which overwinter between the scales of buds, cannot survive very low temperatures eg 5°C (41°F). This might mean that cold winters, like the one we have just had, may kill off those on hardy garden fuchsia. Tender fuchsia plants in conservatories and greenhouses are less fortunate.
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