An unwelcome moth invader

We are pleased that the Farnham Herald used the following report in their most recent issue:

Boxworm moth – Cydalima perspectalis

Gardeners in Farnham are facing a new villain – the box-worm moth. Caterpillars of this moth introduced from China are stripping the leaves of box shrubs in gardens. The beautiful topiary and box hedging in classical gardens are being laid bare, and this is after many have suffered from box blight.

First reported in the UK in 2006 and seen by the Bourne Conservation Group in Farnham in 2015, it is already reaching plague numbers. As a recent illustration of the damage that can be done, when the Winter Olympics were held in Sochi in 2014 the roads in the competitors’ village were enhanced by lining them with box – imported from China, and thus accidentally introducing the moth. The understorey of the forests of the Caucasus Mountains is predominantly box, and now the moth is altering the whole ecology of the range.

The photos of the moth and its caterpillar were taken recently by Martin Angel in his garden. Confusingly, there are colour variations so some of the moths are darker or lighter. The Royal Horticultural Society website gives advice on how to deal with the invader.

There are over 2600 moth species recorded in the UK and the vast majority are not only benign but are also hugely beneficial as pollinators. A few give moths a bad reputation including the clothes moth and another that is now spreading in from the continent, the oak processionary moth.

The Bourne Conservation Group is holding an evening event for all concerned about our wildlife on 23rd October at St Martin’s Hall, Lower Bourne. Martin Angel will be talking on an Exploration of the Natural History of The Bourne. Full details can be found here