First new garden pest of 2019 discovered in Berkshire

Pest Image copyright RHS/PA
Image caption The pest creates a white wrapping around the branches of a plant.

An insect which creates unsightly strings of eggs that wrap around branches has been identified as the first new garden pest of 2019.

Experts from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said the cotton stringy scale insect - takahashia japonica - was found on a magnolia in Berkshire.

The RHS said the plant was thought to have been imported into the UK.

The pest is not currently thought to cause any problems for plants beyond the unsightliness of the egg masses.

The garden pest creates a white wrapping around the branches of a plant, which horticultural experts said could be removed with a "stiff brush and water".

The RHS said it was keen to hear from gardeners who find the pest in their garden so it can build up a picture of the plants it is being found on, with magnolias, mulberries, elders, sycamores and dogwoods thought to be favourites.

Gerard Clover, head of plant health at the RHS, said: "On average four (pests) 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."

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