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'Super-pest' could devastate UK, EU brassica crops

Staff writer |
According to new research, exceptionally high numbers of the diamondback moth are arriving in the UK and Europe, threatening cabbage and cauliflower crops.

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The diamondback moth is a species often described as a super-pest and with the right conditions, it has the potential to devastate brassica crops.

Scientists at Rothamsted Research have said if summer weather is warm and favourable for the reproduction of moths, there could be an explosion in the number of moths by the end of the season.

The last time such high numbers were recorded was back in 1996, and scientists predict this year could be even worse.

Chris Shortall, research scientist and coordinator of the Rothamsted light-trap network said they had seen in two nights the number of diamondback moths they usually record in a year. The diamondback moth is often described as a ’super-pest’ due to its resistance to most insecticides.

As well as affecting cabbage and cauliflowers, the super-pest is threatening to any brassica, including spring oil seed rape and mustard, a large proportion of which is grown for Colemans.

Senior scientist at Rothamsted Research, Dr Steve Foster said growers should seek advice from their agronomists and authorised advisers as to how to manage the pest in their farms.