Have you seen the box tree moth in your garden?
This new pest first arrived on our shores in 2007 and is spreading north at an alarming rate, leaving trails of defoliated ornamental hedging in its wake.
BASF and GreenGardener.co.uk are looking for gardeners around the UK to test an environmentally friendly product to tackle the pest.*
Nemasys Fruit and Veg, made by BASF, contains millions of microscopic nematodes – tiny worms which occur naturally in garden soil. The nematodes arrive in the form of a fibrous paste and should be mixed with water and sprayed onto damaged hedges during March and April, when box tree caterpillars are active and are getting ready to pupate into moths. The nematodes prey directly on the caterpillars.
A tracking map is available to alert gardeners about the geographical spread of the moth. Gardeners already in moth hot spots can apply to be part of the test by sending a photograph of their damaged hedging to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Gardeners outside existing hot spots, but who have noticed the caterpillar or moth in their gardens, are also encouraged to apply by emailing a photograph and details of where they live. BASF and GreenGardener.co.uk will add this new geographical data to their tracking map.
The box tree moth or Cydalima perspectalis, although a native of Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, India and far-east Russia, has settled happily in Britain and is expanding its range rapidly. The moths lay their eggs on the underside of box (Buxus) leaves and when the caterpillars emerge, they will rapidly defoliate large areas of hedging and topiary features.
For the Nemasys nematodes to work, they must be applied late in the evening (away from UV light, as it kills the nematodes) and under high humidity conditions, for example after a rainy day.
Nemasys Fruit and Veg and other nematode based pest control products are available only online as they are living creatures and must be used whilst they are fresh. They can be purchased from www.greengardener.co.uk.