You either love them or hate them, but whether you are celebrating Christmas at home or at a restaurant, you can be pretty certain there will be Brussel sprouts on the dinner table.
Or will there? Fears are growing that the traditional Christmas vegetable may be missing from plates this year because of a plague of moths which have invaded the UK, killing farmers’ crops.
As we head towards Christmas Day, supplies of the vegetable are said to be running low after several farmers’ festive crops were decimated by the cabbage-loving diamondback moths.
The diamondback moths originate from the Mediterranean and arrived on UK shores in their tens of millions earlier this summer – in much larger numbers than ever before.
Once the bugs lay their eggs, it takes around four or five days for the moths’ larvae to chew through the sprout leaves at a devastating rate – leaving just the veins.
The Channel Islands’ biggest supplier of vegetables has already lost his entire Christmas supply to the insects, which are also known as cabbage moths, and there are fears that other UK famers could have lost as much as 25% of their crops. By the time the caterpillars hatched this summer and decimated the crops it would have been too late for farmers to start again and replenish their supplies in time for December.
Whilst the moths come over to the UK every year, this year’s numbers were unprecedented and insecticides have so far had little effect on dealing with the problem.
Farmers have been aware of the problem since the summer, so only time will tell in the run up to the big day how much damage has been caused to their crops and how many Brussel sprouts will make it into the shops, our homes and restaurants this festive season….not that some people will mind if they’re missing from Christmas dinner!