The RHS has identified its first new garden pest of 2019 – the unsightly cotton stringy scale (Takahashia Japonica).
Probably imported into the UK, found on a magnolia in Berkshire 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. Also the immature scales that hatch from the egg masses can spread via wind.
Thought to be a faviourte are Magnolias, mulberries, elders, sycamores and dogwoods. If it is unbearable to 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. Yet, the global plant trade is exacerbating the spread of pests and diseases. 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 they will undoubtedly cause some concern for gardeners. In spite of its odd appearance it could well be overlooked and more established than we think.”