The RHS is asking UK gardeners for help to track down and identify a new pest that severely damages Agapanthus flowers.
Currently called the ‘Agapanthus gall midge’, the midge lays its eggs inside the closed but developing flower buds. As the 1-3mm long cream-coloured maggots hatch, they eat out the developing flowers, causing flower buds to abort, or be deformed or discoloured.
The damage caused by this pest was first noticed in Surrey in 2014 and it is already wide-spread throughout southern England. The midge has not been observed in any other country, so very little is known about its biology, life cycle or origins.
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.”
If you live in the UK and encounter similar problems on your Agapanthus, please snip off the affected flowerhead and send it in a carefully sealed container to the RHS. If you are unable to send live samples, you can also send in photographs.
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
Read more at the RHS website