Caterpillars from eastern Asia have somehow made their way across to the UK and are devouring and destroying the UK’s most common plant – the box tree – in a matter of days. Gardeners in London have been given no other option but to remove the ruined plants which have been there for years. The hungry caterpillars have been devouring mature bushes of leaves in just a couple of days.
One London resident expressed her disappointment and upset by saying “We’ve had them for 20 years and now they’re completely destroyed. I couldn’t believe it – it took them just a couple of days”.
According to Guy Barter, the Chief Horticulturist from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has explained that these menacing insects were named the top pest in their annual top ten plant pests and is expecting the same this year.
The caterpillars, that eventually turn into moths have yellow, black and white striped bodies and are around 4cm in size. Newly hatched caterpillars are green in colour with black heads. When they pupate and turn into moths, they have white wings with a brown border, or can be completely brown.
The first adult moth was first reported 11 years ago in 2008, however the caterpillars were not found in gardens until 2011. Since this time, it has become a widespread issue in London and surrounding areas.