Just when you get all soppy about nature it reminds you that it really isn’t just there for pretty photo opportunities and anthropomorphic cuddles. So I wax lyrical about the mysterious moths I find in my traps and then I find dozens of very pretty moths that I really don’t want to see at all.
They come in three shapes. First of all is the plum moth ( grapholita funebrana) yup you guessed it, it eats plums, or rather the little pink caterpillars do. So I am feeling all smug and autumnal picking my ripe damsons and then I open them up and around each stone is the unmistakable black frass of the plum moth caterpillar, as he has wormed its way in through the stem and spent weeks eating the ripe fruit. Apparently you can wash out the frass and still eat the plum, but even I balk at eating caterpillar poo and their left overs.
Secondly are the little black caterpillars of lesser ermine moth ( yponomenta sedella) that have woven Miss Haversham like webs over my sedum flowers and sucked them from red to dry black husks. When I found the moths in my trap earlier in the year I was pleased to identify them as normally I don’t bother with micro moths , but now my wild orpine have again been eaten, I am less impressed by their visit.
The final and most unwelcome visitor is the horrible box bush moth ( cydalima perspectalis) which has come into Europe via plant imports from China. The voracious green catapillar only likes box trees and bushes and weaves itself a cacoon in the leaves where it eats a huge number of leaves and can completely destroy a hedge in weeks. It has been a huge pest in Southern Germany, Switzerland and France and many gardeners have dug up their decimated bushes in despair. Only one chemical called Kendo kills the caterpillars. It is very expensive and very toxic, but it works. My moth traps are full of the wretched adults and I try to make myself kill them, but often fail.
So this weekend I will don protective covering and go out to kill some of the creatures that I most enjoy studying – what wretched irony!