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Shallot Infestation


I have a problem of identification together with the subsequent remedy required and wondered if anyone out there could help.

I have an infestation in the form of very small worm/snake like creatures, white with red bands approx 2 to 3cm long. I have not had this problem before and at a loss as to know what they are or how to rid my garden of them. My first encounter was with a few shallots which wilted or refused to grow. Upon investigation I found these creatures had eaten into the bulb. I have since found the same infestation in some strawberries and then of all things in some runner beans that I had recently planted direct into the ground to stagger my crop. I am obviously concerned having not experienced these horrible things before and wonder if I have to consider spraying or liming the ground at the end of the year. My soil is basically clay based. Could it be that it they have come in with a load of mature farm yard manure which I had delivered? I have searched the internet and although wireworm and eel worm seem to be the nearest possibility by the description they give, the pictures given are nothing like the enclosed photographs of my problem


  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Posts: 36,169

    Hi. Those look very like brandling worms which are used in compost bins to speed the break down of organic material. It could be that they came in with the farmyard manure you mentioned and are now feeding on your crops.

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • Thank you for your reply Ladybird4 but they are definitely not brandling worms.

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391

    If they have hard shells they probably are one of the wireworms.  They are hard to identify and there are several species of click beetle whose larvae are known by this name.  Yours aren't the common ones which affect potatoes which is why the pictures you've found don't match.

    I think the best way to proceed is cultural and to make sure you remove all plant debris from the area at the end of the season then keep turning the soil over to expose the pupae (which overwinter in the soil) to frost and birds.

    This is a US website but has some good tips which may help:

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Many thanks for reply Bob and the USA website details.

    I have not noticed any hard shells but that may of course be due to the stage of the larvae. At each point of discovery I quickly squash the critters which are just thin soft worms at that stage. I will inspect more closely  the next time I find any. I have been worrying about my potato crop so I am relieved to know they are not the common ones. Found more infected strawberries today so am still concerned but will carry out your advice and in particular burn all plant debris.


  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391

    If they are soft they could be some kind of centipede but most of those only eat dead vegetation.  It could be that something else is killing your plants/bulbs and they are just eating what remains.  Have a look at this site to see if you can see anything similar.  This is based in my home county so may not apply everywhere but I find it a valuable resource and they have excellent photos:

    Good luck in resolving!

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    I'd say wireworm being the culprit. As Bob said hygiene and rotation of crops are the best solution. Wireworm can persist though for more than the usual 3 year cycle from memory. I think the old advice was leave the affected area free from vulnerable crops for 5 years. 

  • NanwimmNanwimm Posts: 2

    Did you ever figure it out?  I just dug my shallots this morning and sure enough I have the same little worms, I have wire worms but these are definitely not that....

  • NanwimmNanwimm Posts: 2

    they are immature Blaniulus guttulatus, commonly known as the spotted snake millipede.

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