The RHS has identified its first new garden pest of 2019 – the unsightly cotton stringy scale (Takahashia Japonica).
Found on a magnolia in Berkshire thought to have been imported into the UK, the egg masses on the scale insect resemble a white wrapping around the branches. Beyond its unsightliness, the pest is not currently thought to cause any problems for the host plant.
A native to Asia it has spread around the world with plant trade and is prevalent in parts of Italy. In addition the immature scales that hatch from the egg masses can spread via wind.
The RHS is keen to hear from gardeners who find the pest in their garden so that it can build a picture of host plants in the UK and tailor advice to gardeners. Magnolias, mulberries, elders, sycamores and dogwoods are thought to be a favourite. If it is considered unbearable by gardeners, where practical, eggs masses can be removed with a stiff brush and water.
Gerard Clover, Head of Plant Health at the RHS comments: “The cotton stringy scale is the first new pest detected by the RHS in 2019. 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.”