Wasps could help protect greenhouse plants

A scientist from the Natural History Museum in London has discovered that a new species of wasp has arrived in the UK.

The Encarsia aleurochitonis is native to Europe and has been known to hunt whitefly – a widespread pest in the UK.

However, Dr Andrew Plaszek has recorded the first confirmed sighting of the species in Britain after watching one of the 1mm-long critters emerge from a whitefly.

He believes the tiny wasps may have been prevalent in the UK for some time but have simply been missed due to their small stature.

While the wasp may not be of the greatest use to gardeners as it only feeds on wild whitefly, its close relative the Encarsia formosa has previously been used to control the pests in greenhouse environments.

"There are dozens of parasitoid wasps right under our noses keeping a lot of pests under control without us knowing theyre there," Dr Plaszek noted.

"They provide an ecosystem service – and its not until things get out of balance that were aware of what theyre doing."

In other news, the Royal Horticultural Society has began a new study into how plants can increase the biodiversity in gardens.