Saturday evening, Mud discovered that one of our Spider Web plants hadn’t been killed off by the cold snap but rather that a veritable army of Vine Weevil larvae had been steadily munching their way through the intricate web of fine roots, leaving only the mature main root and condemning the once majestic plant which has now been consigned to the rubbish heap. There’s something quite sad about being able to lift the remains of what was a large and thriving plant out of it’s planter, with one hand and minimal effort.
But what to do with the compost?
One thing was for sure, I didn’t relish the idea of the larvae infested substrate finding its’ way into my compost bins but Mud had the solution. He googled Vine Weevil treatment and discovered that we could cleanse the compost quite easily by emptying it into buckets and saturating it with water, ensuring that each tub/bucket of compost was effectively ‘flooded’. More about that in a moment though.
As far as the larvae were concerned though, we decided that we couldn’t let all that protein go to waste, especially with a garden full of nesting birds. So over the course of a couple of hours, Mud and I took turns digging the compost out, one trowel full at a time, into a large seed tray and sorting through it for all of the grubs and there were dozens and dozens of them. We popped the grubs into two plant pot saucers and placed them on the lawn and sleepers for the birds. Within seconds the pair of robins who are nesting in our hedge, had cleared both saucers and were looking for more and so it was that as fast as we filled the saucers, the robins cleared them …… and no other bird was given a look in, with the poor sparrows being soundly scolded and beaten off when they dared to try and grab some of the protein filled grubs for themselves.
We were amazed by how brave our robins were, coming, as they did, to within half a foot of us as we worked our way through the compost, snatching grubs from the saucers as we filled them, far too impatient to wait for them to be placed back on the lawn. And the greedy blighters didn’t just take one grub at a time. They helped themselves to beakful after beakful and we came to the conclusion that somewhere in our hedge is a nest full of hungry, demanding little hatchling robins ……. with extremely fat bellies!
With four large tubs and the seed tray filled with compost, we filled them with water, saturating the compost and continuing until there was at least one inch of water, free and clear above the compost. The theory is that any eggs/grubs/pupa still in the compost will drown and over the course of the next couple of days, will float to the top. The water can then be drained away and the compost dried out ready for dumping into the wildlife bed, in the corner near the pond.
I can’t help but feel that Vine Weevils serve no purpose other than to be prey for the black beetle populations which frequent our garden, including the impressive if scary looking Stag Beetles. Not entirely sure I’m happy to lose one of our favourite plants in the process though!