02222018

Invasive bug ‘could spread in UK’

Box tree caterpillars

Image caption

The caterpillars can devour a box hedge within days of hatching

An invasive caterpillar that feeds on hedges is starting to spread from its established base in London across the UK, experts warn.

The box tree caterpillar is the larval stage of a moth native to the Far East and India.

An infestation can reduce the glossy green leaves of a box hedge to a faded skeleton within a few days of hatching.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) says it is now receiving three or four reports of infestations a day.

There have been more than 150 reports already this year, compared with 20 last year, and just three in 2011.

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