The UK’s worst insect infestation for nearly 10 years has wreaked havoc on vegetable crops, with some suppliers warning of shortages.

Carrots are looking particularly bad, with brassica crops also expected to be hit hard, growers say.

Mark Taylor, chief taxonomist for Rothamsted’s Insect Survey, said aphid numbers had hit their highest level since at least 2007 this year. “It has been a big year for three or four of the aphid species that affect vegetables,” he said. “They also got to crops earlier than normal, when the crops were still young.”

Taylor attributed high aphid numbers to the weather - but said the EU ban on neonicotinoids could have further boosted peach potato aphids, which feed on most fruit and veg.

“The ban meant oilseed rape crops had no protection and they may have acted as a reservoir,” he added. 

According to one major supplier, high aphid pressure is hitting roots and brassicas in Lincolnshire and East Anglia, particularly organic roots that cannot be sprayed. 

The supplier said this, combined with difficult weather, this had created a “perfect storm” for growers - with some seeing yields slashed considerably.

A shortage of UK carrots - which were already running behind as a result of difficult weather conditions - was now almost certain, he added. “Carrots are smaller and we will go through the domestic crop much quicker.” Brassica supplies were also expected to be tight.

However, Andy Weir, head of marketing at UK wholesaler Reynolds, played down concerns over shortages, claiming it was “too early” to tell whether UK carrot supplies would run out.

He said brassica growers had handled aphid pressures “very well” and the problem seemed “short-lived” now the weather had settled.