Solomon’s Seal sawfly

Solomon's SealConfined to my desk by wet weather, I realise that the planting around my pond is the most important in my whole garden because I sit and look at it all the time I am ‘working’. Every leaf matters.

Currently the Polygonatum (Solomon’s Seal) is powering upwards with almost visible speed in its allotted space (where in a matter of a few weeks its bent-over stems and little hanging white flowers will be reflected artily in the pond’s glassy surface).

It was a ‘donation’ from a neighbour the summer before last, when the pond was only just finished, and came as an unlikely bundle of uprooted foot-high shoots with little soil attached to its root system.

I really didn’t expect it to ‘take’ at all, but it did and now I have a sizeable patch of it. The shoots turned out to be miraculously free of Solomon Seal sawfly, whose tiny white grubs can reduce the stems to skeletons almost overnight in high summer – they munch away almost invisibly on the undersides of the leaves, eventually pupate in the soil beneath and emerge as tiny flies the following May to lay eggs in the new shoots.

It is one of those biological merry-go-rounds that is hard to interrupt once it has started, and chemical treatment is the reliable way forward.

Last summer I didn’t take anything for granted and I sprayed the shoots at around this time with systemic Ultimate Bug Killer (imidacloprid) taking great care not to let it drip in to the water since it is harmful to pond life.

Sitting here looking at the shoots through the rain-streaked window I am reminded that I should take preventative action again any day now – if only the weather would dry up a bit.

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4 Responses to Solomon’s Seal sawfly

  1. Barbee' says:

    In my garden (Kentucky, U.S.A.), the Solomon Seal has rampaged throughout the whole place. A few clumps were already here when we moved here, and I had no experience with it before. I have often wondered if everyone has such a problem with it spreading like wildfire? We dig it, bag it, and send it to the landfill.

    Siting it the way you describe, so it is reflected in water, sounds lovely.

    I have enjoyed my visit.

  2. emmteeyess says:

    We have Solomon’s seal in our garden with it’s crop of sawfly. They come every year and I regard them as part of the flower’s life cycle – would never spray them or try to get rid of them. It’s a symbiotic relationship – both species survive and the sawflies only go for the Solomon’s seal – so where’s the harm?! Enjoy!!
    Cheers, MTS

  3. Helen says:

    I take your point. But I just would hate to see the shredded leaves hanging over my pond and sadly reflected in it. The flowers of Solomon’s seal are, after all, only a fairly fleeting pleasure.

  4. Bill Grange says:

    I agree with emmteeyess. I have had my Solomon’s seal eaten by the sawfly every year for the last ten years. The plant always comes up vigorously every year and stops flowering before the sawfly larva start eating the leaves. The foliage dies back anyway – so there is no harm done. I am against the use of pesticides in the garden as they can do terrible harm to all manner of wildlife. Try to enjoy your sawflies!

    Bill

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