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Gooseberry sawfly.

One of our  two gooseberry bushes has been completely stripped and I'm not sure what to do about it. Should it be cut back or will just spraying it with something keep the bush going? I would really appreciate advice. Thank you.


  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,539

    The sawfly have flown and won't be back now until next summer. 

    Give your gooseberry bushes a good feed to cheer them up. Have you pruned them this year yet? If not, cut the side shoots( not the main ones) back to five leaves now (or where five leaves would be if they hadn't been eaten).  In November cut the main stems back by half of the growth they made this summer (you can tell this year's growth because it is a different colour from last year's.)

    Next summer, the moment you see a few leaves being eaten, search the plants from top to toe for green caterpillars.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • Kate CKate C Posts: 17

    Thank you so much for your help Pansyface. I will do all that you said.

  • TopsoiledTopsoiled Posts: 113

    The sawfly larvae will live in the ground around the base of the bush. Next year you will see what looks like a slimy bird dropping on the leaves - this is the pupae which turns into the caterpillar. They will totally strip the gooseberry bush as you have seen!

    I also had them attack my cherry trees.

    I tried lots of different organic pesticides - none worked and the feedback from the very good local nursery was that none of the organics had worked for anyone. What did work was Pyrethrin - I think the trade name was Pi. I also put weed proof membrane down as a barrier to stop the life cycle. Around the cherries I cleared the grass to bare soil to allow chickens/birds to scrape and dig up the grubs.

    So far so good!

  • LoganLogan Posts: 2,532
    Kate c i always use a winter wash with jayes fluid that works on my red & white currants as wellimage
  • Kate CKate C Posts: 17

    Thank you Topsoiled and Logan for your responses to my query. My husband wondered if putting some membrane down might be helpful so now you've mentioned that too we'll certainly be doing that. We'll also go to the garden centre and have a look at Pyrethrin (if they've got it....we live in a very remote part of the country) and check out Jeyes fluid as well. Hopefully it will tell us on the bottles how to mix and use it. I've only ever heard of Jeyes fluid as a disinfectant and didn't know it could be used for such as this. The devastation happened really quickly and strangely the other gooseberry bush, which is right next to the eaten one, hasn't been touched at all. Many thanks again.

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    My espalier was stripped last year too.  This year, as soon as they appeared (early June, I think) I sprayed with garlic emulsion and had no further trouble till mid-August (after I'd harvested a good crop).  Then I sprayed it again and am expecting to see little further damage when I eventually get home.


    • Crush/coarsely chop a bulb or two of garlic (the ones that didn't grow big enough to use in the kitchen).
    • Boil them in a large pan of water until the kitchen is steamed up or the neighbours start complaining about the smell.
    • Strain the resulting soup through first an ordinary strainer and then a cloth to remove all the bits.
    • Pour it into a bottle and add some oil (sunflower rather than engine) and a little detergent
    • Shake and decant some into a hand sprayer.
    • Spray liberally , especially under the leaves which is where the little b*ggers hide.
    • Enjoy garlic-flavoured gooseberries.

    (not really, but I wouldn't spray just before you harvest!)

  • Kate CKate C Posts: 17

    Steve 309...Thank you too for your help. Your recipe sounds very interesting and well worth a try I think and I did appreciate the humour too!

  • TopsoiledTopsoiled Posts: 113

    I've heard and read about the benefits of Garlic spray - thank you for the recipe - must try it. I have also heard aspirin is very good - 1 tablet diluted in 1 litre of water and used as a spray.

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