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Imported bugs are ‘first new garden pest of the year’



An odd-looking scale insect with strings of eggs that wrap around branches has been named as the first new garden pest of the year, plant experts have said.

The cotton stringy scale – or takahashia japonica – was discovered on a magnolia in Berkshire, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) confirmed.

The creatures, which are believed to have been imported, are currently not thought to cause any issues for host plants.

But the unsightly appearance of the egg masses could be of concern for some.

Gardeners who cannot bear the sight of the insects can remove them with a stiff brush and water.

Those who find the pests in their gardens are being urged to contact the RHS, which is hoping to build a picture of the plants they are being found on.

Magnolias, mulberries, elders, sycamores and dogwoods are considered the pests’ favourite.

“The cotton stringy scale is the first new pest detected by the RHS in 2019,” said Gerard Clover, head of plant health at the RHS.

“On average four are found every year but the global plant trade is exacerbating the spread of pests and diseases and gardeners need to be alert to changes and maintain good plant health.

“Unlike some other pests we expect to find, the scale insect causes little to no damage to the plant but will undoubtedly cause some concern for gardeners.

“In spite of its odd appearance it could well be overlooked and more established than we think.”

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