Unusual caterpillar visits UK for first time

UK's Fera’s Pest Identification Team is reporting its first interception of Orvasca subnotata Walker (Lepidoptera, Lymantriidae), (also known as also known as Euproctis subnotata, or the sorghum earhead hairy caterpillar.) This is a pest which eats many ornamental and crop plants. It is native to South and East Asia, from India to Borneo.

Fera entomologist Anastasia Korycinska, who identified the caterpillar, says: “It is not unusual for Fera’s Inspectors to find stray insects on imported plants, but this is the first sorghum earhead hairy caterpillar we have seen.”

The caterpillar lives in warmer parts of the world and poses a low risk for the UK as temperatures here are usually too cold for it.
While this particular caterpillar finding is not a major threat to the UK, this is not always the case - many other imported insects could cause an outbreak which could potentially ruin UK crops or horticultural plants. Fera’s Plant Health and Seed Inspectors are a key part of the UK’s frontline defences, checking imports at our ports and airports.

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