Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Let's Not Let Our Horse Chestnut Trees Conk Out

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Let's Not Let Our Horse Chestnut Trees Conk Out

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson Reporter

EXPERTS in the North East are working to head off a conker crisis.

Since 2002, the number of horse chestnut trees affected by the leaf miner moth has increased significantly across the UK.

Trees are down and Its caterpillars mine within the leaves and destroy most of the tissues, turning the foliage brown and causing leaves to fall prematurely. There can be hundreds of thousands of caterpillars in a single infested tree.

replaced due scale of the from insect Dr While the leaf miner caterpillar does not kill the tree, it weakens it and makes it vulnerable to other diseases, in particular bleeding canker, which can be fatal. It can also cause a significant reduction in the size of conkers.

The highly invasive moth was first recorded in London in 2002 and quickly spread. It is now present in trees throughout England and Wales, including the North East.

Now researchers at Newcastle University, and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, who have been studying the spread of the moth, are asking people to help record where damage caused by the leaf miner moth has occurred.

They are also asking the public if they can find evidence of birds feeding on infected trees since there is some evidence that garden birds such as blue tits have developed a taste for the caterpillar.

being cut not to the threat Dr Darren Evans, reader in ecology and conservation at Newcastle University, said: "The leaf miner moth is really damaging to horse chestnut trees. We know that they can result in trees producing much smaller conkers, and many horse chestnut trees are being cut down and not replaced due to the scale of the threat from insect pests and disease.

pests Michael Pocock "The moth has spread very quickly and until now natural predators such as parasitoid wasps and birds have been slow to respond. …

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