As much as gardening is a fun and relaxing pastime, it can also prove to be quite the annoyance thanks to all the pests and diseases that can strike at any time.

The RHS has just published its annual list of the most troublesome gardening issues, based on enquiries from green-thumbed enthusiasts, for 2017 – and honey fungus and the box tree caterpillar came out on top over the last 12 months.

Last year, box tree caterpillar reached the number one spot, being seen increasingly in the Home Counties and London, and feeding on the leaves of box from inside the tree – leading to severe defoliation.

As for diseases, honey fungus took the top spot for the 22nd year in a row – quite the feat! This has been put down to the fact that it’s got a very diverse host range, including popular plants like the rhododendron and the rose.

Head of plant health at the RHS Gerard Clover said: “This year’s pest and disease ranking points to the continuing problems inflicted on gardens by old foes like honey fungus but also new and emerging threats like box tree caterpillar, fuchsia gall mite and kerria twig and leaf blight.”

Where box tree caterpillar is concerned, look out for signs like pay yellow flattish eggs laid on the underside of box leaves. The newly hatched caterpillars are greenish yellow and have black heads. Where practical, remove the caterpillars by hand. You can also use a pheromone trap to monitor adult moth activity. If you have a huge infestation, you can try and treat it using an insecticide.

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