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Monday, Oct 10th

Last update:03 Oct 14:28 GMT

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Have you seen this caterpillar?


copy_of_scn0001716The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) are calling on gardeners to help the RHS map the whereabouts of box tree caterpillar (Cydalima perspectalis).

This native of East Asia eats the leaves of box plants (Buxus species) and has been reported for the first time in British private gardens. Adult moths have been recorded in Southern England since 2008, but its caterpillars had only been found at one commercial nursery in Surrey in 2009 and 2010. In May 2011 the RHS received the first specimens from private gardens in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

Box tree caterpillars were first detected in Europe in 2007 and are now widespread on the European mainland. FERA concluded that, given the pest’s rapid spread and the possibility of adult moths reaching the UK naturally, no statutory action would be taken on further occurrences in the UK.

“Box plants can be totally defoliated by this moth’s caterpillars and there is also a threat to our uncommon native box plants such as those on Box Hill in Surrey. This is yet another problem for box in the UK which is already suffering from diseases such as box blight (Cylindrocladium buxicola),” says Dr Andrew Salisbury, RHS Senior Entomologist. “It is important for us to monitor this caterpillar’s movement. Knowing how quickly it is spreading and what plants it has been found on could help us develop ways of managing this pest.”

“There is little published information on the control of Box Tree Caterpillar,” says FERA Entomologist Anastasia Korysinska. “The silk webbing around the caterpillars can make control difficult. However, insecticides available to gardeners for controlling moth caterpillars, such as pyrethrum, deltamethrin or lambda-cyhalothrin, should be effective. Physical control by cutting off infested material or picking off caterpillars could also help.”

In Germany, complete defoliation of ornamental box plants have occurred but in the Netherlands the damage has been less severe. In Europe the caterpillar has only been found feeding on species of box. However, in Asia other host plants include llex purpurea (purple-leaved holly) and Euonymus alatus (winged spindle tree).

The RHS asks gardeners finding this pest in their garden to let it know by sending samples or photographs to Entomology, RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB or sending images to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Box is not usually damaged by other caterpillars, so extensive defoliation and webbing on this plant is likely to be due to box tree caterpillar

Uninsured - you must declare it!


New laws to tackle uninsured driving will be enforced this summer.

Under the new Continuous Insurance Enforcement law it is an offence to be the keeper of an uninsured vehicle, rather than just to drive when uninsured.


This summer registered keepers identified as having an uninsured vehicle will be sent a letter telling them that their vehicle appears to be uninsured, and warning them of the consequences if they fail to take action. Those who do not act on this warning - either by taking out insurance or declaring their vehicle off the road - will receive a £100 fine and could have their vehicle clamped, seized and destroyed. They may also face a court prosecution.

 The Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), which last month launched a national advertising campaign to raise awareness of the new law, has seen a 20 per cent rise in the number of successful searches by motorists who have checked their insurance details are recorded on the Motor Insurance Database (MID).

 All drivers can check their vehicle is recorded correctly for free at

 Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said:

 “Anyone who receives a warning letter should take action immediately by getting insurance or contacting the DVLA to declare their vehicle off the road.”

  "Failure to act will result in a fine, court action or seeing your car seized and destroyed.”

 Ashton West, Chief Executive at the MIB, said:

 “We know who the registered keepers are with vehicles that have no insurance and letters will be dropping onto their doormats from this week. It’s no longer a case of if you will get caught, but when you will get caught.”

 “An estimated 1.4 million drivers are flouting the law by driving without insurance. This is a serious offence and results in accidents that cause about 160 deaths each year and more than 23,000 people are injured by uninsured drivers. It also adds around £30 per year to honest drivers’ motor insurance policies.”


Under the new system:

  • The DVLA will work in partnership with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau to identify uninsured vehicles.
  • Motorists will receive a letter telling them that their vehicle appears to be uninsured and warning them that they will be fined unless they take action.
  • If the keeper fails to insure the vehicle they will be given a £100 fine.
  • If the vehicle remains uninsured - regardless of whether the fine is paid – further action will be taken. If the vehicle is on public land it could then be clamped, seized and destroyed. Alternatively court action could be taken, with the offender facing a fine of up to £1,000.
  • Seized vehicles would only be released when the keeper provided evidence that the registered keeper is no longer committing the offence of having no insurance and the person proposing to drive the vehicle away is insured to do so. 

4. Measures already introduced in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 gave police improved access to the MID and powers to seize vehicles driven without insurance. In 2009 around 180,000 uninsured vehicles were seized.

Fired up opposition to HS2!


tania_parsonsthorpe_beacon_2A beacon was lit at Thorpe Mandeville last Monday in protest against the HS2 Rail Link and warning the start of the consultation process.

 Despite cold and wet weather about 100 supporters attended the beacon lighting at Lower Thorpe including Lizzy Williams, chairman of the national campaign STOP HS2.  Over 50 beacons were lit by objectors along the proposed HS2 route.

All five homes in the hamlet of Lower Thorpe are due to be demolished to make way for the HS2 London to Birmingham High Speed Rail Link.

 “Opposition to HS2 is not a Nimby rave” says Tania Parsons of Lower Thorpe, “It is an economic concern affecting us all.”

 “Because of their financial and environmental loss, those directly affected are the most motivated to scrutinise the proposed scheme, whereas HS2 supporters often talk in lofty generalisations. 

 The HS2 economic case is fundamentally flawed, but attractive to politicians who perceive it as emblematic and futuristic and, to Mr Hammond, a legacy.”
“But the minimum cost is a whopping £17billion for the first phase alone - £160m a mile - £1,500 for every household in Britain, in an economic environment where the Government preaches austerity and makes cutbacks of essential services and where individuals are facing uncertainty and redundancies.”

 “The Philip Hammond HS2 PR circus has started, but taxpayers need to look beyond the spin and
count the cost in relation to the true benefits before supporting this vanity project – So much is being

spent for the benefit of so few.”


Thorpe Mandeville is a small rural parish on the border of south-west Northamptonshire, approximately 6 miles north-east of Banbury and 9 miles north-west of Brackley. (See )

Leek season runs through the Year


leeksAs we head into summer, the Leek Grower's Association is urging people not to forget the benefits of the British leek as the fat-free, nutrient rich answer to staying healthy and helping combat colds.


From keeping sore throats at bay to improving the quality of the singing voice, this 'upmarket onion' or 'poor man's asparagus' is a must-have on shopping lists across the country as the British leek season runs through the year.


More refined, subtle and sweet than the average onion and packed with anti-oxidants, the leek has long been treasured in Europe and the Mediterranean where it has been grown and cooked for more than 3,000 years. Rich in iron, vitamin B6, vitamin C and folate it is used in traditional medicines to treat a variety of ailments including the common cold, gout, 'bad' cholesterol, kidney stones as well as protecting against cancer.


Whether you like them roasted, baked, braised or boiled, leeks are easier to digest than onions, have laxative, antiseptic, diruetic and anti-arthritic properties. Just half a cup of leeks counts as one serving so check out the British leek website for mouth-watering, seasonal recipes, developed for The Leek Grower's Association by leading UK chef and food consultant, Rob Rees, MBE. Or, try out his Open Tart of Leeks, Stilton and Chesnuts recipe overleaf.


Comments Rob, "The aromatic smell and subtle flavour of leeks is a great combination. The Great British Menu embraces seasonality as its core and what better way to manage Autumn into Winter than with this fantastic vegetable".



Reminder to blood donors


NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is reminding blood donors to make every effort to attend upcoming sessions, where it is feasible to do so.

The last fortnight of bad weather has led to the cancellation of some sessions across the country.  NHSBT is urging those donors who are booked to give blood and can travel to sessions and donors centres safely to make every effort to keep their appointments. Jon Latham, Assistant Director of Blood Donation at NHSBT, said: "NHSBT is managing well in the current pattern of tricky weather conditions and is continuing to supply hospitals with all the blood that they need.

"However, we need those donors who are able to reach their local sessions to continue to do so.  If you have an appointment please try to keep it and if, for some reason, you cannot attend please rebook your appointment as soon as possible.  New donors are also very welcome.

"We would like to offer our sincere thanks to all those donors who have been able to attend and give blood during the bad weather."

Due to the fluctuating weather patterns it is not always easy to assess in advance when a blood donor session may have to be cancelled.  Blood stocks are turned over within a few days and both red cells and platelets have a limited shelf-life (35 days for red cells and five days for platelets).

At the present time NHSBT is aiming to collect more of the blood group O Rh D negative, which is slightly below the normal quantity held in stock.

"O-neg" donors are typically known as the "universal donor" as their blood can be given to patients with a different blood group.  This can prove vital in an emergency situation when there may not be time for an immediate blood grouping test to be carried out.  Approximately 7% of the population have this blood group.

Only four per cent of the eligible population are registered as blood donors so it is essential that donors attend to give blood when they can. 

To be potentially eligible to give blood you must be aged 17-65, weigh 7st 12lbs (50 kgs) and be in good health.  There is no upper age limit for donors who have donated in the last two years.  To find out more or to book an appointment please call 0300 123 23 23 or log on to