Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Very hungry Asian caterpillar threatens Britain’s box hedges

Not since Alexander Pope ended the 18th-century craze for artfully-trimmed hedges by lampooning aristocrats for turning shrubs into “awkward figures of men” has British topiary faced such a grave threat. 

Gardeners are being warned to look out for a new invasive pest which is threatening to lay waste to Britain’s box trees - the favoured shrub of topiary artists - by stripping entire plants bare and reducing painstakingly-clipped creations to withered skeletons. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has recorded a rapid expansion of cases of Diaphania perspectalis, otherwise known as the box tree caterpillar, a species native to Asia which likes nothing better than to snack on the hitherto famously hardy Buxus sempervirens, which is toxic to other animals, including humans.  

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