Hedges and Caterpillars

By Len Bellis

A number of residents have been concerned at the damage being done to some hedges around Kingsmere, caterpillars are to blame and are currently busy chomping through hedgerows.

I have seen a very large colony of the White ermine moth caterpillar on the path running alongside the new academy, they are harmless and once they have pupated, around the end of June the hedge should recover.

White ermine moth caterpillar
White ermine moth caterpillar

If you are growing box (Buxus sempervirens) keep a look out for Box caterpillars feeding on your box plants they are the caterpillar of the Box moth, Cydalima perspectalis, as soon as you see the leaves being eaten and webbing forming, have a search in the bush and you will likely find a caterpillar as pictured below, the pupae are concealed in a cocoon of white webbing spun among leaves and twigs.

As it was in locked down it became a daily ritual of inspecting the plants for the caterpillars. It was actually quite therapeutic and especially when you found one and showed it the sole of your shoe!

There are several insecticides of the Pyrethroid family which may control them, usually marketed for use on fruit and vegetables, an organic option would be to use nematodes and the particular type Steinernema carpocapae. Blue tits will predate them but it would be a last resort as the caterpillars diet of box leaves makes them fairly unpalatable. 

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