A tiny insect that lays a string of eggs around a plant’s branches has been identified as the first new garden pest for 2019.  

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said the cotton stringy scale was spotted on a magnolia in Berkshire.

It is thought the pest started thriving in English conditions after being imported.

Experts claim the host plant is unaffected by the presence of the animal, besides being made unsightly by the mass of eggs.  

It is not currently thought to cause any problems for the host plant beyond the unsightliness of the egg masses.

Its eggs resemble a white wrapping around the branches, the horticultural experts said. 

If gardeners cannot bear the look of the bugs on their trees and shrubs they can remove them with a stiff brush and water.

The RHS has also appealed for any gardeners who find the pest to inform them.

It hopes to build up a picture of the plants it is being found on, with magnolias, mulberries, elders, sycamores and dogwoods thought to be favourites.

Gerard Clover, head of plant health at the RHS, said: ‘The cotton stringy scale is the first new pest detected by the RHS in 2019.

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