I’m working at home today, plugging away at a paper on the MLS measurements of sulphur dioxide from volcanos. But it is too nice outside to stay out of the garden entirely.  Gooseberry bushes look particularly attractive about now, with their fresh new leaves and the tiny flowers hidden among them.

Pic of gooseberry bushes
Gooseberry bushes in May: With leaves on. For the moment.

But this is, of course, the brief moment of peace, before the annual hostilities commence. And look: the enemy is (are?)  here  already.

Leave with sawfly larvae
The enemy: larvae of the gooseberry sawfly.

Gooseberry sawfly larvae, or imported currant worm as the Americans call them. Or evil, greedy, gobbling squishy, nasty little <redacted>, as they are known in these here parts.  (Nematus ribesii, just to stop this drifting entirely away from science.) Today: one leaf with holes in it. Tomorrow: ten leaves gone and some fat green caterpillars wolfing down the next ten. Next week: Not a gooseberry leaf left in the garden. There is not a lot you can do to get rid of them either. Even if I were inclined to drench a plant I am going to eat with potent neurotoxins, which I am not, there are not many effective insecticides for attacking these wretched creatures. Even the birds don’t seem to eat them. I have kept the ground under the bushes clear and tilled over the winter in the hope that the birds would eat the pupae  — they clearly didn’t get them all. The best advice at this stage seems to be to find the larvae and squish them as soon as they hatch out. So it is round one to me, but I am not hopeful about any sort of sustained victory.

As with freedom, the price of gooseberries appears to be eternal vigilance.

If this has any connection with weather and/or climate it is the date. I’m not sure what date last year’s war began, but everything else seems late this year, so the sawfly probably are too. I suppose that this sort of thing is the reason why you are supposed to keep a garden diary, but I’m far too disorganised.

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