The scene sounds like something from Monty Python. An army of gardeners and scientists wearing breathing apparatus and armed with cans of hairspray patrol the historic oak trees at Kew Gardens.
They are mercilessly hunting down the nests of dangerous hairy caterpillars. Meanwhile, across the Channel, the Belgian Army is mobilised to deploy flamethrowers against the same insidious pests.
It is far from a joke. Since the oak processionary moth arrived in southern England not much more than a year ago, its eggs embedded in trees imported from Tuscany, it has multiplied rapidly.
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