Fuchsia gall mite is a new but not yet widespread pest that was found for the first on the mainland of Britain in 2007. This pest is no longer notifiable.
What is fuchsia gall mite?
Fuchsia gall mite is a microscopic sap-sucking pest that is specific to fuchsias. If the pest is not too widespread, it may be possible to eradicate it. However, if it is already present in many gardens, then it is likely that fuchsia gall mite is here to stay.
Signs of infestation;
- Fuchsia gall mite is a microscopic creature, but it has a profound effect on fuchsia plants
- The mites are 0.25mm long and too small to be seen without a microscope
- They infest new growth at the shoot tips where they suck sap and secrete chemicals that prevent the normal development of leaves and flowers
- As the infestation increases, foliage becomes increasingly distorted until plants can no longer produce normal leaves or flower buds
- Growth at the shoot tips consists of a mass of yellowish green or reddish-pink distorted tissue instead of leaves or flower buds
- Pictures of damaged plants can be seen on the Fera Plant Health factsheet
- Cutting off infested shoot tips will remove many mites but regrowth is likely to become infested
- In California, it has been noted that that some Fuchsia species and cultivars appear to be resistant to this pest. Susceptible species are Fuchsia arborescens, F. magellanica and F. procumbens
- Many commonly grown cultivars are likely to susceptible; those affected in the garden near Fareham were 'Mrs Popple' and 'Margaret Brown'
- Species and cultivars noted as being resistant, and which are listed in RHS Plant Finder as being available from one or more UK nurseries, are 'Baby Chang', 'Cinnabarina', 'Mendocino Mini', ' Miniature Jewels', 'Space Shuttle', Fuchsia microphylla subsp. hidalgensis, Fuchsia thymifolia and Fuchsia venusta
Gall mites in general are relatively tolerant of pesticides and most home garden products will be ineffective.
- Abamectin + thiamethoxam (Westland Plant Rescue Bug Killer Ornamental Plants ready to use) may give some control if applied when symptoms start to appear. However, while this pest remain uncommon in the UK it is better to destroy infested plants to prevent the mite spreading to other gardens in the locality
Pesticides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)
- Fuchsia gall mite was first discovered in Brazil as recently as the 1970s and it has since spread elsewhere, including California, France, Germany and the Channel Islands
- The mite was first found on the mainland of Britain in September 2007 when samples of infested fuchsias were sent to the RHS Members' Advisory Service at RHS Wisley
- The affected plants were previously healthy hardy fuchsias that had been growing in a private garden near Fareham, Hants, for about 20 years
- Subsequently the mite has been found in other gardens in southern England, including Middlesex, Kent, and Devon
- Fuchsia gall mite probably first arrived in Britain at some time during 2006/2007
- It may have been introduced by the nursery trade on imported pot plants, or it could have arrived on cuttings collected by someone who had been staying in the Channel Islands or the Brittany region of France, where the mite is now widespread
- Being tiny animals, gall mites cannot travel far by their own means, but, while crawling around, can get blown by the wind to another plant. They can also hitch a ride on insects and other animals that alight on infested fuchsias.
- The mite has several generations between late spring to autumn and it takes about 21 days to complete the life cycle at 18°C (64°F)
- The mites overwinter under bud scales but may remain active during the winter on glasshouse fuchsias
- The mite cannot survive temperatures below 5°C (41°F) and so cold winters may kill it on hardy garden fuchsias. However, cold winters are becoming infrequent in the south of England and in city centres, where sheltered conditions may allow the mite to survive winter out of doors