what are the little hard black specs on my fuchsia?

(13 Posts)
NotAnEMERGENCY Thu 22-Sep-16 11:16:02

They appeared on quite a few of the leaves (the upper side) recently. They look and feel like poppy seeds. They are not sticky at all. They are fairly hard so I don't think it's a live creature but I suppose they could be some sort of egg casing. I can't see any live creatures on the fuchsia at all. (Apart from bees! grin)

Some of the leaves seem to have gone a bit limp around the same time I noticed the black specs so I'm worried it's some sort of infestation but it doesn't sound like any of the things that have come up when googling.

Any ideas?

Ferguson Thu 22-Sep-16 20:32:02

A picture would be useful. But maybe it could be insect poo?

Tinklypoo Thu 22-Sep-16 20:38:17

Scale insects will be 2-3mm long, hard and smooth. If you scrape one off it will be a buff/orange/tan colour underneath. All you can really do is scrape them off gently. Alternatively, try a little surgical spirit on the end of a cotton bud. Loosens their grip. The damage is from them sucking sap. Fortnightly spray with a product called S.B. Plant Invigorator keeps most aphid type nasties and red spider under control.

NotAnEMERGENCY Fri 23-Sep-16 21:48:48

Hmmm I'll try to remember to take a photo tomorrow. When I had a brief look earlier, I couldn't see so many of the black specks any more but the plant was looking worse (droopy leaves and sickly looking unopened flower buds).

The specks are no larger than 1mm. There was no buff/orange/tan colour when I took them off. I didn't really need to scrape them off; they came off pretty easily. The problem is that there's so many leaves affected that it would take ages to deal with each leaf individually.

I only got the fuchsia in June but I've had so much pleasure from it that I was really looking forward to seeing how it does next year and it'd be a real shame for it to fail now.

Tinklypoo Sat 24-Sep-16 09:46:31

Reading your last post, I'm now wondering about caterpillars, as that sounds very much like caterpillar poo. Have a good look underneath the leaves for live caterpillars, the ends of the leaves becoming rolled and bound together with silk (if you pick these open, you'll often find a tiny, tiby caterpillar inside. Squish them or a spray with Provado ultimate bug killer should do it.

Small caterpillars like Tortrix Moth won't necessarily make obvious eaten holes, but they do have a habit of getting into leaf and flower buds. Try breaking a bud open to see what's going on inside it.

NotAnEMERGENCY Sat 24-Sep-16 10:42:25

I now have photos. First off, here's one of the whole plant to give you a general idea of the size. It has been flowering non-stop since I got it in June. There are still quite a few flowers and buds. I think there would be more but quite a few of the buds are now shrivelling up and dropping off before they even get to 5mm.

NotAnEMERGENCY Sat 24-Sep-16 10:51:42

Here you can still the little black specks. Today for the first time I also found these little brown specks you can see on the photo. Maybe these are the creatures doing the damage? (I don't know why they have only appeared now. The black specks have been there for a week or so. I'm pretty sure I would have noticed the brown things before if they were there then.)

The shape of the brown things does seem more like a 'head + body' shape (i.e. there's a sort of 'neck' where it's narrower) whereas the black things are just oval.

There are far fewer black specks on the plant now than there have been but the leaves themselves (and the buds) look more sick.

NotAnEMERGENCY Sat 24-Sep-16 10:57:15

Apart from the buds shrivelling up when they are still small, the full size ones seem to end up a funny shape like in the first photo here. Before the infestation of the black specks, buds were always a perfect symmetrical shape. Now they look a bit wonky and the colouration is also different. They tend to be paler in general but also more blotchy with patches of the darker pink.

The second photo shows a close-up of a leaf shrivelling up from the tip.

NotAnEMERGENCY Sat 24-Sep-16 11:02:35

This is the final photo. I couldn’t find any caterpillars but I did eventually find a bit of what could be (?) silky stuff from a caterpillar. There's not much other evidence of that on the plant though. Maybe it's just a coincidence?

I did break one of the wonky buds open but nothing unusual inside.

I do see caterpillars elsewhere in the garden sometimes so it's not like I'm caterpillar blind!

NanTheWiser Sat 24-Sep-16 18:25:14

Definitely caterpillar damage - the brownish specks are almost certainly fresh "poo" - called frass. The last pic shows the webbing these little pests make to protect themselves, and they are chewing through the leaves/stems, which is why the leaves are shrivelling. Not an easy fix, best done with a pesticide spray, but you will need to treat the whole plant, spraying under the leaves. Even then, you might not get them all, as they are masters at camouflage, and protection from the silk webbing.

NotAnEMERGENCY Sat 24-Sep-16 22:10:47

Thank you so much to everyone for all the suggestions/advice!

Ferguson Sun 25-Sep-16 20:48:21

If you overcome this problem, take care of the plant over winter and treat it gently next year to try and get the best from it. Fuchsias can be fascinating to grow, and are very easy to propagate.

You can train them a 'bush' plants, or take off side stems and grow them as tall 'standards'.

It will probably scare you at first, but to get maximum flowers next year, take off the early small buds; this will concentrate the plant to make more buds, which you can also take off. When you have a mass of buds, leave them to develop and open. They also benefit from feeding. Here is a good fuchsia site, and there are plenty of others:

www.fuchsiaflower.co.uk/index.htm

www.thebfs.org.uk/

NotAnEMERGENCY Mon 26-Sep-16 12:50:29

Yes, I took some cuttings back in June and five of them are doing really well. They seem desperate to bloom but I have been pinching off the buds as I want them to concentrate on roots this year.

I will definitely keep an eye on the mother plant over winter and it will get plenty of TLC.

Thanks also for the useful links!

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