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I give in! My once magnificent hedge has been cut down and dug out. I suffered three consecutive years of heartbreak watching my hedge being decimated. Now that it has gone my front garden receives more light and I can plan a new border. When one door closes......
I don't think the bugs flew to Ireland! I was wondering if I could cut my berberis hedge down in Spring as it is too high for me to trim. The hedgetrimmer isn't strong enough to cut down very far. I would need a saw I think but all the leaves would be gone. will it grow back if I do a 'hatchet' job? It was beautiful this year in May and no sign of any caterpillars yet!
Thanks to everyone for comments. My berberis is over 20 yrs old and has been the crowning glory of our garden for all those years untill about 3 years ago. It happens every year now..:-( I too had a major trim last year. Regrew this year but now devestated again. Such a shame. We live on Surrey/Hampshire border. Will try brolly, sheet, cardboard and soapy water next year. Good luck to everyone.
I live in Manchester and have just had to trim my berberis right back and dispose of the caterpillars, does anyone know if the caterpillars are ok for ducks to eat as our two don't seem to be picking them off the lower branches or from the ground?
Richard - recently caught meigenii in Norwich and would like to check on Essex record you mention - can you contact me at tony.irwin"squiggle" Thanks Tony


I'm in Manchester and my purple Berberis just been stripped for the second year running. By the time you see the damage it's too late to stop. Will spraying now help to prevent reinfestation next year? Plant was here when I moved in some 30 yrs ago, so reluctant to dig it up, pink new leaves so pretty, but bare twigs not!!
I found this link by googling "berberis pests" because a couple of mine have been stripped by something. I'm now quite sure it's sawfly caterpillars. I don't use chemical pesticides in this garden, organic for 25 years but I LOVE BT, short for bacillus thurigensis , a bacteria that only kills caterpillars. This must be available in Britain--it works! (couldn't grow crucifers if it didn't!)
forgot to say just for the record I live in Montreal, Quebec and have never seen this before! Lots of pesky insects this year, more than ever before.
saw this problem on our two large bushes today totally stripped it of leaves hope it comes back we're in walsall west mids.
I am having the same problem with my Berberis. It is a mature shrub growing over 15 years and I thought it was dying as the foliage in the middle of the shrub has been totally eaten and surrounding foliage is almost bare. Having had a closer look to my dismay I found approx 30 caterpillars eating the foliage. I have sprayed insecticide on them in the hope that they do not come back and the bush survives. I live in the South West and it's the first time this has happened.

My Berberis has grey fungus type blotches on all the branches. Leaves are starting to look sad. Any ideas how to cure please


i have ahd them to this year.. loads of  them.. i had to look up what they were.. leaves are stripped to just stalks..  i just removed the ones i could see and spread on the path.. didnt stay there for long i can tell ya.

lilylouise wrote (see)

Flippin'g things are back - we haven't been bothered with them for a couple of years

 Pam LL x


I posted this a few days ago - I don't like using insecticide but I have and the caterpillars have gone. They had munched their way through half a shrub before I noticed

Pam LL x



ohmy Pam.. not good.. those look like the ones i had on my verbascum this year.... it is a good year for the bad pests i say.


I live in Notting Hill and for the first time I have got the dreaded sawfly.  have just given them the umbrella treatment.  Cross my fingers

This seems to be the year of the caterpillar.  Pests, like most everything, come in cycles.  Best if possible is to check over your bushes for first,signs and then do something.  First noticed caterpillars on geraniums few weeks,back and treated all of them to sprays......soap amd chemical and they seem fine now.  


Jai Carr

I'm adding my comments to those before me because I've just discovered I'm a victim of the dreaded Berberis sawfly.   I thought my two "pillar" shrubs were ailing last year because of the wet summer in 2012 but now I realise it was this pest.  It was only after it happened again this year after a good spring show of leaves that I thought I would google the problem and got some tips on what was wrong.  Today is the day all the theory was confirmed.  I noticed a swarm of flies and captured a couple in a jar and close inspection shows they are definitely adult berberis sawflys.  I live in Stroud, in Gloucestershire and will report it to the RHS for their survey.

Ms P

The berberis hedge (which actually belongs to my neighbours) at the front of our property has been ravaged and having done internet research, have concluded it's the sawfly (I noticed a swarm of flies in July come up from under the berberis hedge when my neighbours were away and I was watering their front garden because of the very hot weather - at the time, I just assumed something had died under the hedge and the flies were feeding on it). However, the hedge of about 6 bushes has been devasted in the past two weeks. Looked up the RHS website and looked on the bushes and saw a larva and some flies. My neighbour is going to get the sprays recommended on the RHS website. We are in Liverpool and the hedge is probably 15-20 years old and this is the first time we have seen this happen.

I live in March North Cambs.  One bush was attacked early summer and a second bush devastated this last two days.  On checking the caterpillars are there to be seen.  Will try all methods recommended as it seems these are hard to eradicate.  They seem to be spreading all over the country.


My verbascums were attacked by black caterpillars last year  and the shrubs are not recovering