The edges of the leaves had been eaten away and there were small holes in toward the center of the leaves. At first, I thought this was damage caused by birds (particularly pigeons) who may have landed on the plot.
Birds tend to peck and tear the leaves of the plants. And it’s not unheard of for mice to also have a little nibble. After doing some sleuthing online I’m convinced that my little allotment plot is rife with weevils and flea beetles. I came across this problem before, but found that my french beans and runner beans were left unharmed – and that was my first clue that it may not have been the birds or the mice.
It turns out the pea and bean weevil is a well known pest causing havoc throughout Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia. Adult weevils survive the winter living off of plant debris and dry leaves and move onto devouring peas, beans and other leguminous plants in the spring and well into the summer months.
No doubt, my search for information about the weevil led me to the RHS website and they’ve said that although damage looks worse than what it generally is – it doesn’t affect the growth of the plant, so every cloud has a silver lining.
Dealing with weevils
- Cover with a fleece or cloches to help your broad beans and peas outgrow damage.
- Keep broad beans well watered to encourage growth.
- Use an organic pesticide that contains pyrethrum (including: Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Defenders Veg Bug Killer, ecofective Bug Killer).
Weevils also lay eggs toward the end of spring and when the larvae hatch they feed on the nitrogen rich parts of the roots of your plants.
Adult beetles/weevils then come start to come out of the ground in the late summer. Thankfully, the lifespan of a weevil is just a year, so I’ll have to keep the ground well dug and egg free to avoid another family of weevils next year.
If you have experienced weevils in your garden or allotment I’d love to know what tips and tricks you use to combat them – although damage is minimal, it just looks rather dramatic!