Some Help from the HDRA regarding Bean Seed Fly – Delia platura


Pouring with much needed rain so no trip to the plot but an email arrived from the HDRA help today.

I joined the HDRA in 1976 It has moved a long way since then. I really used to love the personal feel, members magazine was black and white, mimeographed. I could imagine someone churning out the pages on a hand cranked Roneo. Now it is colour A4. On the other hand, it is involved with schools and councils in the UK and helps many in the developing countries to gain appropriate agricultural technologies, seed libraries and local groups.

Anyway, they offer a member’s advice service as well as a host of useful information on the HDRA Website. My question to them was:

“Hello, I am getting poor germination and development of some of my dwarf beans. Tried germinating some Kenya beans (var  Twiggy) on compost under paper and noticed many had small white maggots eating them.   
Any info would be of value.”

Their reply was:

“It is very difficult to ascertain for certain what the problem is, but just going by your description, it could be the Bean Seed Fly (Delia platura). White, legless fly larvae eat the germinating seeds of beans. They can cause extensive damage to germinating beans especially if germination is slow in cold compost or soil. To prevent damage, try starting seeds off in modules with fresh seed compost and plant out when the soil is warm.   

As well as trying your germinating method (beans on compost covered with newspaper), try sowing doube their width in modules of seed compost.   

We are receiving quite a few enquiries regarding bean seed fly. In next months ‘what to do in your garden now’ on the HDRA website, we are putting more information regarding this pest with pictures  of the damage the larvae can cause. We hope you find this useful. “

I think I have identified my problem from this. I tend to re-use compost where things don’t germinate and may have recycled the maggots from earlier failed sowings when it was cold.

Sometimes a hint puts you on the right path again.

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