Attack of the bush bugs

The controversial leylandii hedge is under attack from a new pest that could remove it from British gardens.

Often a form of debate between neighbours, leylandii hedges are a symbol of British gardens but Cypress aphids from southern Europe are threatening its existence.

They feast on its sap and eventually turn the leaves brown before killing the hedge.

A study by the Royal Horticultural Society has found that the bug could be attacking hedges across the nation after it looked at 316 samples in laboratories.

The study claims that 53 per cent of samples sent in had been mortally wounded by the bug, although it remains unclear whether they are injecting a toxin or just damaging the water system.

Dr Jean Fitzgerald of East Malling Laboratories in Kent, which studied the samples, said that the pest has been known to "wipe out entire populations".

"Were still not sure whether its a problem thats always been there, but not been noticed before, or whether it really is getting worse, perhaps due to warmer springs," she told the Daily Telegraph.

Leylandii plants are known to have caused rows and legal action between neighbours because of their imposing growing patterns.