Bonfire of the box trees

Wanstead is currently overrun with nasty little caterpillars which have devastated hundreds of gardeners’ box trees. And the forecast isn’t good.

Wansteadium has been warning since 2016 about the rise of the box caterpillar, and sadly it’s now come true with long-established and cultivated plants being stripped of their leaves. The pest was first detected in the UK in 2011 and has been gradually spreading north. It arrived in Wanstead in 2015/6.

There is little gardeners can do to tackle the pest, apart from picking the caterpillars off by hand and using powerful pesticides, which many people won’t want to do. Anecdotal evidence suggests Bayer’s Provado Ultimate Bug Killer (available at Heads n Tails) can have some effect, but some gardeners will conclude that pulling up the boxes is a better solution.

The new campaign group Wild Wanstead, which is encouraging people to make the most of their gardens, has this list of suggested alternatives to box.

5 thoughts on “Bonfire of the box trees”

  1. I’ve said it since they arrived in 2015, the Leytonstone caterpillars should be dealt with robustly. But no one seems to care. Wake up Wanstead.

  2. I agree. No one in the gardening ‘media’ seems to think this is important. I have sadly dug up all my topiary Box and quite honestly don’t want to see a Box bush ever again!! Nurseries are still selling Box, and tv and radio gardeners never give any indication that a serious problem exists and that it will spread eventually from London and the South-East across the country.

  3. I’ve had to dig up over 30 box trees from my garden…thoroughly depressing for a keen gardener.
    I’ve replaced most with yew and laurel.
    I’m just amazed that local garden centres are still selling box…you might as well throw your money to the wind.

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