Horror of horrors, got back from UK last night in time for nice amble around the Potager - Leaves shredded from 2 gooseberry bushes. RHS Book says Sawfly
Will they damage the super fruit arriving? What can I do non-chemical??
I had a couple of bushes totally stripped a year or two back. The crop was reduced but the following year they were fine. I don't spray. I would probably have picked off the caterpillars if I had seen them, but working full time they got missed. There are no long term effects.
No trace of caterpillars. French gardening mag says cut off tips to first fruit as sawfly love the young growth. Have done this - now fingers crossed! Thanks for advice so far.
They'll eat the lot, by clipping off the soft young growth the idea is you remove most of the sawfly. However, when push comes to shove sawfly eat ALL the leaves.
I remember as a child seeing gooseberry bushes draped with net curtains - I thought it was to keep the birds off, but maybe the curtains kept sawflies off as well?
I think they start from ground level up so cutting off the tips will not help much.
they are tiny caterpillars, green with a black head, when first hatched they are like less than 1 mm, fully grown maybe 4mm and a head like a black pinhead. They are hard to spot, easiest way is to look at the damage areas, they will be curved like the halfcircle they are planing off, they will all basically be on the leaf edges.
Thank you so much for all your comments. Looks like pruning worked, but I'm not holding my breath! Would just like Gooseberry Pie this year!