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THE ONLY SOLUTION
on 12 July 2014
When I began gardening, long before most folks were born, vine weevils were unknown to me, and remained so until I "escaped to the country" 26 years ago upon retirement. I had always grown giant Begonias, and continued to do so in my first year in my new home. But when I got out the stored tubers the following season, I found they were just hollow skins, each one populated by two or three white grubs; and so I met the vine weevil. There was then no antidote for this pest, and I could never find the adults no matter how I tried, so I gave up tuberous Begonias. As my garden developed, so did the vine weevil, the tell-tale scalloped cut-outs along leaf edges appearing everywhere; this was the only significant effect on plants in the garden (for which there is still no cure), but those in pots were a different story. No longer was it possible to keep any plants for a second season; and I spent many hours picking the grubs out of the spent compost dumped into a wheelbarrow at the end of autumn, and feeding them to the tame Robin.
Then Provado appeared. I started using it several years ago, and although expensive, I would not be without it. It works faultlessly, and I mix it with liquid fertiliser, so there's no extra work involved. My expenses have increased further, though, because I now have to buy mealworms for the Robin.
If you grow plants in containers, this product is indispensable. I am pleased now to see it here on Amazon, where prices are always competitive. Watch out, incidentally, if you plant any of the new, brightly-coloured Heucheras in your garden; they are vine-weevil caviar, and small plants can be destroyed. Strangely, the adults don't seem to eat the leaves, so there's no warning until the plant collapses, and is found to have lost all its roots...
Some time after writing the above review, I became aware of the concern relating to the use of nicotine derivatives as pestkillers. To put matters into perspective, nicotine has been used as a pestkiller for the better part of a century (for decades in its most poisonous, concentrated form), whereas the decline in the bee population has only been drawing attention relatively recently. I deplore it as much as anyone, but I can't say I've noticed it in my garden. It's worth noting that ALL pest sprays will kill bees, and perhaps the most noteworthy fact is that the decline wasn't halted by the banning of DDT and systemic organo-chlorides which we all used in the sixties and seventies; in fact it seems to have accelerated.
The RHS has a balanced paper on the subject on its website. But it's clear from all the contradicting views that there is more to the bee decline than meets the eye, and as far as I'm concerned the jury is still out. Those who wish to ban pesticides point to the cost of pollination if bees are reduced to the point where they do not contribute; but what would be the cost of lost production if foodcrop pests could not be eliminated ? I'm glad I don't have to judge this issue...
That said, no pesticide or herbicide should be applied without careful consideration and forethought. We are encouraged to use nematodes, for example; but all organisms evolve (think of the bird flu virus and antibiotic-resistant bacteria); how long before one of the nematodes we now so profusely multiply and spray around mutates into one that can feed on, say, a bee - when it finds its colleagues have consumed all the vine weevils ?
My rules are; don't spray anything until there's a problem, but do nip the problems in the bud to avoid the need for excessive spraying later on; NEVER blanket-spray weedkillers on lawns or anywhere else; always spot-spray; and always leave a substantial part of the garden totally unsprayed. My vine weevil killer is applied only to pots, tubs and baskets around the house (and without it I wouldn't have any); and the rest of my 5 acres is pesticide-free. I feel this to be the best compromise currently available.