Vine Weevil? I Think NOT!

Amid shrieks and general pandemonium today, it was a case of … “We’ve got Vine Weevil all over the garden; you’ll have to treat all the bonsai!”

It is helpful at times to have some knowledge to differentiate between a Vine Weevil and something else. Upon closer inspection I could immediately see legs which confirmed straight away it was not going to be Vine Weevil.

This was an area of garden that we had wanted to develop for a while now, but after removing a diseased Silver Birch five years ago; it left a trunk sticking up out of the ground some 90cm across. I could have used a product to rot it away to nothing but I have for the last few years tried to go almost 100% organic.

Now as it turned out, these little beauties were  Stag Beetle grubs; to be absolutely precise the lesser stag beetle, Dorcus parallelipepidus. The Stag Beetle is now actually considered to be an endangered species where as the ‘lesser’ is not.

Here then is the first of a series of pictures from today! Oh, and don’t worry they were all put back and are now safe and sound doing what they do best, nibbling away at the dead wood. Birches are a great target because the timber is very light when dried out.

Just before I show you the pictures I felt it was prudent to just include a small bit of information on the Stag Beetle that everyone can help with.

Stag beetles need dead and decaying wood to lay their eggs and to feed on, so it would be great if you could leave an area of your garden undisturbed with fallen trees, tree stumps or logs that are in contact with the soil (so that the wood remains moist and can decay).

This kind of habitat is great for other wildlife as well, but if you are lucky enough, you may help these magnificent stag beetles move in too. Try to do your bit for endangered species … please.

Here then are the grubs:

They are not greatly pleased at being picked up and tend to defecate on your hand; they think it will put you off:-)

Sorry it was a bit blurred try this one.

You can clearly see the legs!

At the same time we found several adults.

So there we are; not Vine Weevils at all (breathe a sigh of relief).

6 thoughts on “Vine Weevil? I Think NOT!

  1. Have just spent a few hours researching (for which read putting off household chores) and I believe the misconception has arisen from my having cut my early horticultural teeth with the good Doctor Hessayon who only identifies the wee beggers with the legs as Chafer Grubs in The Garden Expert. The RHS Pests and Diseaseas is much more forthcoming and I feel an evening’s entertainment at its hands tonight. (Gotta be better than the rubbish offerings on telly). My biggest lawn problem was leatherjackets, and I still come across the odd few even although we have long since got rid of our lawns.

    I’m going to take Ian’s advice and collect them up and have them for supper. Not raw and wiggly though, but fried in garlic butter and eaten with a nice little Sauternes. Well, maybe.

  2. Dorcus parallelipepidus? Sounds like a stereotyped Greek laundrette owner. Good article, Mike. I had in my head that those little dudes were called chafer grubs.

    1. Mike Jones

      Hi Fiona, I like that humour, works for me . OK then, as you mentioned Chafer’s and there is a few of them. The garden chafer Phyllopertha horticola, and this is the monkey in your lawn causing all sorts of trouble! The welsh chafer, Hoplia philanthus, mostly sandy soils that one.

      Put them on a flat surface and they will straighten out which is a quick way to identify chafers; in addition they are much smaller than the LSB grub; other differences but those two are the main ones. Neither of these chafers will bury down in rotting wood and I don’t have the affection for CG’s that I do for Stag Beetle’s and the lesser version.

      Then there is the summer chafer, the cock chafer (no jokes please) the rose chafer, and so on. The downside is as well as pulling your lawn to pieces the adults will chomp on container grown plants and yes trees.

      The lesser stag beetle grub and chafer are often incorrectly-identified, no idea why really cos one likes lawns (and is deffo not your friend) and the other rotting stumps and logs. On that note its time for my Horlicks


Comments are closed.