Josie Stuart

Josie is part of the RHS entomology team, exploring cultural controls for woolly apple aphids and assessing the effectiveness of natural predator shelters for community orchards and garden apple trees

What do you do?

My work varies day to day and certainly keeps me on my toes! I help to answer both entomology and pathology member enquiries, contribute to the entomology research programme and deliver various outreach sessions, such as public training days and Hilltop Live talks.

I am interested in finding out the best methods for encouraging natural predators of aphids into our gardens, specifically those that affect apple trees (Malus spp.). Aphids come up time and time again in our entomology enquiries from our members, especially the woolly apple aphid (Eriosoma lanigerum) and the rosy apple aphid (Dysaphis plantaginea). 

Aphids have many natural predators such as ladybirds, earwigs and lacewings. Understanding the most effective way to attract these predators into our gardens is an important step to advance cultural control strategies and move away from pesticide use.

“Plants produce 98% of the oxygen we breathe, 80% of the food we eat, and remove about 1.3bn kg of air pollutants in the UK. We need them more than they need us, so protecting them should be our number one priority.”

Why is your team’s research important?

The research we do as a Plant Health team is influenced by what our members are asking us, and therefore contributes to providing our members with the most accurate advice in return. We mainly focus on looking at the efficacy of cultural and biological controls as we strongly discourage the use of pesticides. This is particularly important as pesticides are incredibly harmful to many organisms in our environment.

Projects I’m working on now

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.