European pest begins breeding on UK shores

Garden and greenhouse lovers have been warned to watch out for the emergence of a southern European pest, which is said to be breeding in the UK.

Nezara viridula – otherwise known as the southern green shield bug – was recently spotted in London.

Horticultural charity Garden Organic has warned its members the pest can consume a number of species of plant, including soya beans, tomatoes, alfalfa and cucurbits.

It is often difficult to detect the damage until a few weeks after the critters have had their feast – with distorted fruit and loss of leaves and blooms being some of the symptoms.

As the UK climate gets warmer, it is believed more of the bugs will begin breeding here, according to Garden Organic expert Sally Cunningham.

"This is one clear indicator that climate change is impacting our gardens," she said, adding the bug is unlikely to pose huge problems but highlights the possibility of other pests arriving on UK shores.

Ms Cunningham said people should look out for the "lentil-sized youngsters" and let the charity know where they are appearing.

In other news, the organisation recently donated seeds to help start a kitchen garden in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.