CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Town Hall on alert for Box Tree Caterpillar invasion

Gardeners need advice on how to halt Britain's most unwanted pest

07 September, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

The stripey – and insatiable – Box Tree Caterpillar [Pic: RHS]

IT is the story of the hungry caterpillar – a very hungry caterpillar – but it does not make happy bedtime reading for the officials at the Town Hall.

The box tree caterpillar, which has topped the Royal Horticultural Society’s list of most hated pests and comes with a ferocious reputation for being able to strip a tree within a matter of days, has been seen in Hampstead gardens. Camden has now sent out inspection teams to ensure green spaces are not being invaded. The box tree caterpillar, originally from Asia, has distinctive yellow and black stripes and is relatively new to the UK.

It was first spotted on these shores in 2008, but in the past five years there have been increasing reports of the creature in London gardens.

Conservative councillor Siobhan Baillie says residents have contacted her to warn they are munching their way through gardens in NW3. “We would like to raise awareness that a box tree caterpillar has been found in the ward [Frognal],” she told the New Journal. “I want to know what the Town Hall’s approach to this is and whether there is an intervention. The Town Hall has some very experienced people to deal with environmental issues such as these and I want to ensure people know what to do.”

A council spokesman confirmed they had received a report of a box tree caterpillar infestation in Hampstead. He added: “We are further investigating the exact location of this infestation. “We have inspected the public areas that we manage in Frognal and Fitzjohns ward, and have found no traces to date. We have not yet received any reports of the box tree caterpillar in the parks and green spaces that we manage.”

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