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Gooseberry stripped

Hi there,

Last year I lost all the leaves off the gooseberry bushes.  These aren't big.

This year, I kept two cuttings away from the other one, and they have been coming along brilliantly.

Today I checked on the plants and most of the leaves were gone.  On closer inspection loads of little caterpillars were on the plants, most likely munching away.

I pulled the ones I could see off.  Is this typical?  Can I prevent this from happening?  The gooseberry bushes are getting nowhere as a result.

On chalk land in the south-east of the UK.

The caterpillars are very small and green.

Last edited: 05 July 2016 15:53:04


  • WaysideWayside Posts: 807

    Looked at above, could it be the small gooseberry sawfly?

  • WaysideWayside Posts: 807

    I did try searching the forum first.  Just found this related thread via Google.

    I guess then my question is, is it sawfly or not?  The cuttings were newly planted in fresh compost.

  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Posts: 36,166

    It sounds exactly like gooseberry sawfly. Many garden plants talked about on the forum seem to have some version or another of the sawfly family.

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,024

    There's a biological control for gooseberry sawfly, a nematode which you water on the plant in early May and then July.  It's quite expensive though.  There are chemical sprays which work but personally I wouldn't spray food crops with chemicals.  It's a matter of choice, of course.

    There are several generations of sawfly larvae in one year, so you have to be vigilant if you're going to pick them off your plant.  They drop down and pupate in the soil below the plant, so unfortunately you're likely to get them again next year...  One useful tip I was given was to put sheets of newspaper on the ground below your bushes before removing the larvae, because they have a tendency to drop off in response to vibration.  My suggestion would be to start examining your bushes every time you go into the garden from May onwards.  The beasties are unlikely to kill the bushes but a heavy infestation obviously weakens the plants.

    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • WaysideWayside Posts: 807

    Thank you, damn and drat.  The buggers!  Thought I might have outfoxed them this year.  But not so...

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