Most visitors to Crabtree Fields would have noticed that some of the hedges are looking brown and dead. The more eagle-eyed of you would have spotted the reason.
The cause is the box tree caterpillar, a relatively new invasive species to the UK.
“The Box-tree Moth Cydalima perspectalis is a striking moth that was accidentally introduced to the UK originating from south-east Asia,” states Butterfly Conservation.
“Whilst the adult moth was first reported in Britain in 2007, caterpillars were not found in private gardens until 2011, it has since become widely distributed across England (particularly London and surrounding areas),” according to the RHS.
Some of the hedges may recover later in the year but in the long term this invasive insect is hear to stay.
The moth and its caterpillar have few natural predators and many birds are put off by the taste. However, recently it has been reported that jackdaws and several common garden birds have been observed feeding on them.
The advice from the RHS is to plant an alternative hedge.
The Friends group for the past few winters have been restoring the layout of the garden and have been planting a variety of native and non-native trees and shrubs.
Dead or dying box hedges will be removed and replaced with saplings of deciduous or evergreen shrubs.