Plague of moths 'destroying' fancy hedges in the city

Homes with Buxus have been waking up to completely ruined greenery as box hedge moth takes hold of the city. 

Homes with Buxus plants have been waking up to completely ruined greenery as box hedge moths plague the city - Credit: Sandra Colley/Ace Pest Control

Gardeners who have spent hours toiling to keep their gardens looking beautiful have warned others to be on the lookout for a breed of moth plaguing the city.

Box hedge moths - also known as box hedge caterpillars - have been particularly prolific this summer, experts have warned.

The moths make their homes in Buxus plants - otherwise known as box hedge - which is often used for topiary.

The invasive species is still "relatively new" to Britain, having found their way into the country in plants delivered from Asia in 2007, and have destroyed plants ever since.

They cause the most damage between March and October and city folk have seen first-hand the devastating effects of these pests – they can destroy a box hedge in "less than a week" if action is not taken.  

One city woman who knows all too well the devastating effect this insect can have is 70-year-old Sandra Colley who lives in NR3.  

The garden fanatic said: “I have had my Buxus tree for 24 years, I brought it Hertfordshire when I moved here more than two decades ago." 

Sandra Colley, 70, is still waiting for her booster jab.

Sandra Colley, 70, is still waiting for her booster jab. - Credit: Sandra Colley

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As a keen gardener Sandra is certain she took very good care of her beloved plants.  

However, she said: “The box hedge moths were able to destroy it in a matter of days.  

“The moths even got into my home.” 

Andrew Dellbridge of Ace Pest Control has said that the pests are "rife" in the city at the moment.  

He said: “If you can avoid it just don’t plant box hedges at the moment.” 

Andrew Dellbridge, Director of Ace Pest Control.

Andrew Dellbridge, Director of Ace Pest Control. - Credit: Ace Pest Control

The pest boffin put the fast increase in the problem down to global warming as he said that warmer weather makes them breed faster.

As a result, the problem may get worse year on year.

He said: “The caterpillars have slowly moved northward over the last few years.

"Some people down south are unable to plant box and now we are seeing the same here.

"I would advise not to plant box but instead plant yew.  

“My reasoning for this is that it is almost a pointless exercise trying to stop them. If you stop them this year, they will simply come back next summer.”  

Sandra Colley's Buxus tree was destroyed in a matter of days by box hedge moth invading NR3. 

Sandra Colley's Buxus tree was destroyed in a matter of days by box hedge moth invading NR3. - Credit: Sandra Colley