Hello, please help

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Hello, please help

Post by Babu » Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:30 am

Im a cactus grower from the Cambridgeshire area, UK. I got given a gift of a little planter set and some seeds and that started it all. Unfortunately my first crop died due to act of cat.
My current seedlings however were doing really well until last week. Something is eating them out from the inside leaving half eaten gooey dead seedlings in its wake. Ive not seen any bugs or fungi. If anyone knows what is killing my babies and how to stop it I'd be very grateful.
Thank you
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Re: Hello, please help

Post by KarlR » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:07 pm

Hello, and welcome to the forums!

It's a shame about your seedlings. Have you noticed any sciarid flies (tiny, black little devils)? Constantly moist composts (which is recommended for small seedlings) make excellent breeding grounds for these flies. They are particularly partial to peat based composts. The larvae eat the roots and cause the seedlings to rot and collapse. Could be what's happening to your seedlings. If it's the flies, the best way to combat them is probably to allow the soil to dry out, although this will likely retard the growth of your seedlings (at least for a time).

If you post in the main plant forum and maybe add some pictures I'm sure you'll get more advice and possibly a solution.
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Re: Hello, please help

Post by rodsmith » Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:31 am

Babu wrote:Something is eating them out from the inside...
Welcome to the forum, Babu. I agree with KarlR, this sounds like the work of sciarid fly larvae. I had the same problem a couple of years ago. It may be too late this time but a couple of other preventative measures are to cover the soil with a thin layer of fine grit when you sow your seed; this will prevent the flies from laying their eggs but, provided the layer is not too thick, the seedling roots will penetrate it. Further, invest in a pack of the yellow sticky rectangular plastic fly strips and hang a couple in close proximity to your seedlings. This will help to catch the flies but the problem with the little blighters is that they spend a lot of time running around on the compost rather than flying. Good luck anyway.
Rod Smith

Growing a mixed collection of cacti & other succulents; mainly smaller species with a current emphasis on lithops & conophytum.
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