The bug, called a psyllid, is the latest weapon against the non-native knotweed which estimate believe cost the British economy more than £150M a year to control and clear.

Knotweed grows vigorously at a rate of up to a metre a month, including through tarmac, concrete and drains, causing damage to roads and buildings.

From today (March 9) the Government consulted on the release of the insect last year.

It hopes by using the bug, which is a predator of the plant in its native Japan, it will act as a natural form of pest control.

Environment minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, said: “This project is not only ground-breaking, it offers real hope that we can redress the balance.

“These tiny insects, which naturally prey on Japanese Knotweed, will help free local authorities and industry from the huge cost of treating and killing this devastating plant.”

Chair of environment and sustainability expert panel at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Ian Nicholson said: “Japanese Knotweed is a big issue for the construction industry, costing millions of pounds each year to manage.

“The ICE therefore welcomes any advances in providing solutions to this invasive species, provided of course they do not produce any other negative impacts on the environment.”

Although, the plant devastates local species it has a long history of use in Japan as a source of nectar for bee keepers.

Luke Walsh

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie