Box tree caterpillar season

There I was, having a marvellous time pruning a bit of vegetation off the hornbeam hedge in front of the house.

It’s getting nicely girthy (is that a word?) now. Thickening up enough so that we hope the zillions of small birds might nest in here safely in the next few years.

And it will be a lot better than trying to make a nest on an upturned hoe in corner of the garden room.

But as I was walking back up to the house I glanced at the box balls crammed into the impossible little bed near the cellars at the entrance to the house.

Argh. It looks like I will need to do a bit more than a casual glance here. I have had a visit from the box caterpillar moth.

I tried so many plants in this area. Especially after the white wisteria carked it dramatically one summer.

Let’s have a quick delve…

Yep, scrappy and awful.

And you can see it, and I can see it. But it wasn’t until four years after we moved here that I finally hired Nicolas to do the only decent thing for this garden bed.

Rebuild the damn wall!


I stopped trying to be artistic and just accepted that a simple small bed with two features – stone and one plant is enough.

And I love it. For ten years I did absolutely nothing. I barely even pruned them as I like them fluffy. A bit messy which suits a rural garden.

The arrival of great hordes of box caterpillar moth make me put more work in.

Think thick gloves a good seat under each plant and squish, squish, squish.

And prune. And try not to think they are goners… Because you can save them.

Ah yes, the great pyrale infestation of 2017. Clouds of the moths descended. Our box trees in the forest (acres of them) were reduced to seething masses of webs and death. It altered a huge part of our landscape as the borders of the property up in the forest were delineated with huge lines of box.

But you can get them back in the garden. Prune hard, pick and squish. And for me I went down the biological control route of using Bacillus thuringiensis. A few sprays about a week apart. And stay more vigilant for ever.

I only have a few of the moths this year. But it was a shock as the plants were trouble-free for ages.

But the telltale signs.. were there.

Anyway, I’m more vigilant now and they are looking just fine.

And isn’t it lovely to have one area of the garden that requires so little upkeep?

Happy first of June everyone. I’m off for a walk.