Rare caterpillar found at RHS Garden Hyde Hall after 150 year absence from Essex

Friday 11 August 2017

A rare, red, black and pale green caterpillar, not thought to have been seen in Essex for nearly 150 years, has been found at RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Chelmsford.

The 10cm insect which feeds on Spurge (Euphorbia) and belongs to the migrant Spurge Hawk moth (Hyles euphorbiae) native to Southern Europe, was found in the gardens by visitors Keith and Jennifer Fridd.

Spurge Hawk moths are only occasionally found in southern England with reports of caterpillars even less frequent. Sightings of the moth in Suffolk have been reported this year, but the caterpillar found at Hyde Hall is thought to be the first seen in Essex since 1872. Warm weather conditions have been attributed to the find, with several other uncommon migrant moth species observed in the UK this year.

Elliot Wagstaff, Horticulturalist at RHS Garden Hyde Hall, said: “To find this attractive caterpillar at Hyde Hall is a real privilege and a fantastic addition to the wide range of wildlife that the gardens support. It’s possible that more could be found by eagle-eyed visitors but it may be that others have already entered the soil to pupate.”

Since 1997, RHS Garden Hyde Hall has been re-establishing woodlands on its 360-acre estate creating the perfect habitat for a growing number of flora and fauna. Some of the first animals to return have been owls, kestrels and butterflies. As time passes, and the woodland matures and grows, the Royal Horticultural Society hopes to see many more of Britain’s favourite woodland creatures returning to Hyde Hall.

For more information about RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Chelmsford, Essex, visit www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/hyde-hall  

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Notes to editors

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join

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For more information please contact Laura Scruby in the Royal Horticultural Society Press Office: laurascruby@rhs.org.uk / 0207 821 3060

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262