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Something is eating my lavender

I have to 'fess up and say I am actually an Englishwoman in France, though the countryside here is similar to the English Lake District, with slightly warmer summers and colder winters. (Yes, you CAN have your Kendal Mint Cake and eat it!)

In spring I sowed some English lavender seeds (Munstead, Hidcote & Elegance Sky).  I gave them the pre-sowing fridge treatment.  Munstead & Hidcote germinated well, Elegance Sky less so.  They are currently being grown on in pots on a shelf on my patio, ready to be planted out (when large enough) underneath some bare-rooted rosa rugosa à Parfum de l'Haÿ I have also yet to buy.  The lavenders are I suppose about 7-10cm high now.

I recently noticed that several of the plants are looking rather denuded, and it seems that something has been eating the tender young leaves.  It is as if someone has taken a very tiny pair of scissors and cut off each leaf at about 2mm from where it meets the stem.

I have read that there is a metallic-green and red coloured beetle and its grey slug-like larvae which might be responsible.  It is a southern European pest but has recently migrated north and has now reached the UK.  I have studied the plants and the soil and have shaken the pots but I cannot see any trace.  I have given the pots a misting with soft soap anyway, and will carry on doing this.

If anyone knows anything about these pests and why there is no evidence of them (are they perhaps nocturnal?) or can suggest any other possible cause for my munched leaves I'd love to hear from you.


  • weejennyweejenny Posts: 386

    Hi Chapelgirl I cant help you, but noticed you live in France My mum and dad are great gardeners and live near Limoges. I bet my mum would know. Have you come across a very bright green snake yet!! My mum thought it was a lettuce leaf and wondered how it got in the border (she wasnt wearing her glasses) and went to pick it up! I dont care if they say it wont touch you I wouldnt give it the chance you wouldnt have seen me for dustimage

  • We're in the Savoie, near Italy and Switzerland.  I haven't seen any snakes but we have plenty of cute little lizards who we hope are eating lots of insects.  We also have some rodents outside which are bigger than a house mouse but smaller than a sewer rat.  I'd say they were large hamster-sized, with a short tail, but mouse-grey in colour.  I've seen them a couple of times.  I don't know what they are yet, but I'm prepared to let them be as long as they don't make life too difficult for me.

    If your mum's snakes are bright green I'd be prepared to bet they are harmless grass snakes, and in fact are doing her garden lots of good.  Even in some parts of England they have brown adders which are venomous, but if you leave them alone they will keep down lots of nasties which would like to eat your plants etc. so you really should be kind to them, even if you don't like the idea of snakes much.

  • weejennyweejenny Posts: 386

    My mum and dad love their life. I am a home bird but even I would be tempted with their lifestyle. My dad has started another project today with raising the roof of his piggery to have a shed he can walk into. They've been there 7yrs now and are fluent in French just amazing. Luckily mum isnt bothered with the snakes unlike me!! your probably right they will be grass snakes. They tell me of something that is rat like but much much bigger I cant remember what they called it.

    How long have you been out there


  • We've been in France permanently for about 3 years but we only bought our house here just over a year ago.  Still lots and lots to do, and it's only a tiny and very plain house compared to many, but we love it here.  Is your parents' rodent a coypu or ragondin?  We don't have them here, I don't think, but they are an escapee from fur farms in certain parts of France.

  • weejennyweejenny Posts: 386

    I will ask mum what the rodent is called. Mum and dad are in an house in and about a farm about 14 houses altogether and although they love gardening its a lot of work especially with grass cutting. A few days of heat and rain and it can be 20 grass boxes full. I quietly hope they will come home one day but certainly not for now. By the way I hope someone helps you with your query ha ha Ive not been any helpimage

  • I think I may have found my lavender eater.  There was a tiny bright green caterpillar (about 1cm long) in one of the pots this morning. It's not there any more!  I didn't think lavender had many pests, but you live and learn. I'll keep an eye out for any more.

  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    I think your rodents are in fact hamsters. But I don't know if they are partial to lavender...
  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    Well, I just googled 'do hamsters eat lavender' and apparently they do. Their garden habits are like rabbits, but I think they are probably less agile.
  • Well, figrat, I admit I have only caught a quick glimpse of the hamster-like creature but I didn't notice any white markings on it and its fur was more mole-grey than reddish-brown like the European hamster. Also the range map on Wikipedia doesn't show any in our part of Europe.  It could just be a brown rat which has lost part of its tail, of course...

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