Brits living in the south of England should be extremely careful about swapping cuttings of fuchsia plants, it has been claimed.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) first noticed the Aculps Fuchsiae pest in 2007 after a garden and greenhouse fan sent a sample to its advisory service.
Since then, more plants with damage from the fuchsia gall mite have been appearing in the organisation’s lab.
"This is a devastating pest because it destroys the plant’s shoot tips and flowers," explained RHS principal entomologist Andrew Halstead.
The expert noted that the UK could soon experience a real problem as none of the currently available pesticides are effective against the pest.
He noted that the Food and Environment Research Agency has yet to take any action against infestations in private gardens, although cases are being reported to it.
The tiny mite can be transported by bees in the same way that pollen is and is even small enough to be carried by the wind.
Symptoms include a slow reddening of the leaves, which eventually become deformed, before growth stops altogether.
In other news, the RHS is to say goodbye to its Garden Rosemoor curator Chris Bailes, who is stepping down after 22 years in charge.