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UK: Agapanthus flowers under attack from destructive midges

A popular garden plant is facing a growing crisis from a new midge which is almost impossible to destroy once it settles in soil, the Royal Horticultural Society has warned.

Reports of agapanthus gall midges destroying the plants’ attractive purple flowers have increased rapidly in recent years. The midges destroy the buds and turn the blooms an unappealing shade of brown.

Scientists from the RHS have been inundated with complaints from growers across the south west of England.

The gall midge, originally from South Africa, is impossible to get rid of once it has burrowed into the soil of a garden. Its growth can be slowed, but not stopped.

Dr Hayley Jones, a plant scientist at the RHS, is researching the midges and trying to find a way to stop them. She said: “Last year we had 89 complaints about this midge – and this year we are already at 109, with more coming in every day. It is likely we will end up with more than 150.

“It’s extremely difficult to control because the larvae are sheltered inside the bugs so there’s nothing you can apply to the outside of the buds that can have any effect. All we can recommend is destroying flowers impacted. However, even if you do that super thoroughly, you can’t totally get rid of the midge.”

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