skip to Main Content

Our Web Science Blog

Science, Insects, Trees, and The Environment.


Life Science & Environment

Don't Leave Home Without Science.

Latest Science News

Effects of Deforestation

Effects of Deforestation

According to the UN statistics, our planet’s forest location is estimated around 30% of the total land area. When we compare that to the entire forest area during the 17th century, it is greater than 50% of our land area. It is an unfortunate reality that we are losing forest location of that size of Panama state every year [480 mi] In the present rate of logging, ecologists are afraid that we would undoubtedly lose all the beautiful jungle within hundred years. Services like tree removal arlington tx can affect forests if done improperly.

Woodlands are gotten rid of for lots of reasons, yet a lot of them are for agriculture, money and industrial growth. Various other variables for logging are papermaking, furnishings, and laying roadways.

Besides human-made causes, some all-natural aspects also contribute to logging. Woodland fire, volcanic eruption and also earthquakes are some elements damage woodlands. Nonetheless, human beings hold prime obligation for the quick damage of forests in our world. Strict laws were established, by numerous governments to protect our green resources in this world. Several havens are developed and brought under legal book. Besides these environment-friendly efforts, the rate of deforestation is not declining. Nearly an acre of woodland is cleared every day for different reasons.

(Photo: Lim Yaohui)

Deforestation is having a massive effect on our setting, such as global warming, climate adjustment, and pollution. Deforestation not only destroys trees however likewise the entire eco-system consisting of the animals, birds as well as other living varieties. Trees play a critical function in absorbing the greenhouse gases, such as CO2 and aids us in lowering the effects of global warming. Without these oxygen factories, it is challenging for humans to reside on this earth.

The best way to save trees is to stop cutting trees for numerous functions. Growing trees and afforestation task helps in protecting our earth, yet it must be done around the world. Each resident needs to take an energetic component in growing brand-new trees. Efficiently managing the here and now woodland area and decreasing the use of forest products such as paper and wood products will certainly help in conserving trees worldwide. Embracing a proper recycling approach for woodland products is likewise a practical remedy to stop deforestation.

read more
Difference between Chestnuts and Conker

Difference between Chestnuts and Conker

Many people get confused when it comes to conkers and chestnuts. They both look similar, and conkers is often called as horse chestnuts, and this confuses a lot of people. One thing we need to understand is that chestnuts are sweet and they are edible but conkers or horse chestnuts are poisonous, and they are not for eating purposes. Horse chestnuts may look very desirable to eat but it is toxic, and it can even cause paralysis. Both have a similar feature and people often mistake conkers for chestnuts.

Difference between Chestnuts and Conker

The following are some of the differences between a chestnut and a horse chestnut:


Conkers trees are usually large, and they are more than 100 feet tall. The tree is dome-shaped, and during springtime, the tree has white flowers which have red dots at its base. While the chestnut trees grew only up to 40 feet and they also have white flowers, but it blossoms in June. The flowers of the chestnut tree produce a strong fragrance.


Both the trees are deciduous. Chestnut trees have yellowish green leaves which are shiny, and they turn completely yellow during the fall. Conkers leaves are greenish, but they are more coarse and large when compared to that of the sweet chestnut tree. The leaves of the horse chestnut trees become darker in colour when they mature.


The nuts of the chestnut tree are sweet, and they have two to three teardrop-shaped seeds. These nuts are brown, and they are also edible. Conkers on the other side are not edible as they have a chemical called aescin which is poisonous and it can cause vomiting and paralysis. Conker nuts are bitter and people often confuse conkers with chestnuts as both the nuts looks quite similar.


Conkers needs well-drained soil. It thrives on any soil type as long as it is well drained. The chestnut trees need moist and well-drained soil. Both the trees require lots of sunlight and moisture in the soil.


Conkers is popular in the South-eastern part of Europe, and it grows in mixed forests. Chestnuts are from the United States of America, and they are found in the Eastern hardwood forests.


Horse chestnuts are carried for good luck and charm. The British schoolchildren tie them to their shoelaces and play with them by smashing it hard on the floor.

It is common for people to confuse between both these seeds as they look very similar. The rich brown colour makes both the seeds quite appealing. Some may feel that they could roast it and eat, but conkers must never be consumed in any form. It must not even be fed to horses just because it is named as horse conkers. When conkers were given to pigs, they refused to eat them, but animals like deer and wild boar eat these seeds as their body is capable of breaking down the chemicals that are present in the seeds.



read more
Can you Eat Conkers?

Can you Eat Conkers?

Conkers is the brown seed which is got from the horse chestnut tree. They are available all through the year, and they come in spiky cases. The brown appearance is quite appealing, and it looks as if it will taste good when roasted on the fire. But even though they look appealing you cannot eat them. You can’t eat it raw or fried or roasted.

Can you Eat Conkers

The following are some of the reasons why you should not eat conkers:

Conkers is poisonous:

It is quite confusing for many people like conkers are often called as horse chestnuts, and they get confused with the sweet chestnuts which are quite delicious. One thing you need to understand is that both might have similar names, but you cannot eat horse chestnuts as they can be very poisonous. Just because it is named horse chestnuts, it does not mean that you can feed them to the horses. However, deer and wild boar seem to consume them safely.

There are chemicals like glycosides and saponins in the seed, and these are usually poisonous. But animals like deer have the capability to break these down and these chemicals act as insect repellents, and it is also said that these seeds can keep spiders away when you place them in various locations in your home. The chemicals in horse chestnuts can also keep the moths away.


Conkers has a chemical named aescin which is slightly poisonous, and it can make you vomit and even cause paralysis. The seed of conkers tastes very bitter as it contains the chemical, aescin. The seed of conkers looks very similar to chestnut and thus many people get misled into eating conkers thinking that it is chestnut.

Chestnuts have a sweet taste while conkers has a rough and bitter taste. British schoolchildren had the habit of tying the conker seeds to their shoelaces and smash them into bits and pieces as they play. Sweet chestnut and conkers are distant relatives, and chestnuts are very much liked by people when they are roasted. You must always know that chestnuts and conkers are two different things and chestnuts can be eaten while conkers is suitable only for shoelaces.

It is said that during the World War II, there is a shortage of food supply and the British government experimented with conkers to check if they were edible as if it was, they would have a readily available edible seed. Later they found out that by crushing and leaching with boiling water these seeds can be eaten safely. When conkers was fed to pigs, it refused to eat them.

Just because you can’t eat them, it does not mean that you can’t play with them. You can make creative craftworks such as pencil toppers and even necklaces but make sure that it does not get into the hands of children.

read more

Conker Trees Infographic

read more

Conker Tree Science results from 2010

The two Conker Tree Science missions were launched in 2010, with the bird attacks mission introduced in 2012. We’ve switched to showing the latest results live for each mission (click the buttons at the top to discover more), but here you can find out what we discovered in our first year.

We received over 4000 records, and we thank everyone who took part. Each record is a valuable part of our dataset allowing us to understand more about the horse-chestnut leaf-mining moth and its natural pest controllers.

The records from ‘Mission: alien moth survey’ were spread throughout most of England. The leaf-mining moth is spreading into Britain from London, where it was first recorded in 2002. It has only recently been recorded in Wales and the north of England and has not yet been confirmed in Scotland, which is why we did not receive many reports from these areas. We have sent to Forest Research the records that have been confirmed in new areas. We look forward to confirming many of these records in 2011, but need more participants to check these areas!

Follow the links to take part in mission: alien moth survey and mission: pest controllers, or register your interest in our missions.

Mission: alien moth survey

In ‘Mission: alien moth survey,’ we expected the amount of damage done to horse-chestnut trees by the leaf-mining moth to be high in sites close to London because the moth arrived in London in 2002 and had spread throughout the country since then.

We worked out the maximum damage score recorded in each 20km square on the map for early summer (mid-June to mid-July) and late summer (mid-July to mid-September). In early summer, the damage varied a lot. By late summer, damage to trees south and east of Birmingham was almost always moderate to heavy, but the damage was lighter at the western and northern edges of the moth’s distribution, where it has only recently arrived.

Mission: pest controllers

Over 2000 members of the public and schoolchildren took part in ‘Mission: pest controllers’ in 2010. No one has looked at the pest controllers of the horse-chestnut leaf-mining moth before in such detail in the whole country, so this was really valuable scientific research.

We were interested in how many insects emerging from the leaf were the leaf-mining moths and how many were the natural pest controllers (tiny parasitic wasps) that had killed the developing moths. We expected there to be fewer pest controllers the further the sites were from London because the moth has spread from London.

Very few pest controllers were recorded, and they were not more common close to London than elsewhere. This suggests that the pest controllers that naturally occur in the countryside are not adapting to the presence of the horse-chestnut leaf-mining moth. However, we need to analyze this statistically to confirm this result and also need more data for 2011. Do take part in the mission this year!

Follow the links to take part in mission: alien moth survey and mission: pest controllers, or register your interest in our missions.

read more

Alien Moth

Mission: alien moth survey

Survey trees in your area – anywhere in the UK – for invading alien moths


The tiny moths are well camouflaged against bark (photo: Grahame Madge)

What are you looking for? The damage caused by the leaf-mining moth is often obvious, but it can be confused with other types of damage (see the photo below).


This mission ran from 2010 to 2013. We are currently setting up a new way of recording, which we will link to from this website site.

In 2011 we also produced a smartphone app (the LeafWatch app), although from 2014 onwards we can only offer very limited support for this app. It was one of the first apps of its kind (so now would need ot be updated to work efficiently), but we are keeping it on the App Store and Google Play for people’s reference.

All you need is:

  • A few minutes at a horse-chesntut tree anywhere in the country.

Your mission in brief:

  • Find a horse chestnut tree (see here for help with tree identification).
  • Look at the leaves near the bottom of the tree: can you see whitish blotches, made by the alien moth?
  • Find out the nearest postcode or write down the location so you can find the tree on a map.
  • Use the detailed instructions to decide how badly affected your tree is.
  • Submit the information to our database, even if your tree is not infected.
read more

Pest Control

Mission: pest controllers

Discover how many alien moths have been killed by pest controllers in your leaf, by recording which insects hatch from it.

From 2010 to 2013 we collected the results of this mission as part of a real science. From now on we are not collecting the results, but we have left the information here particualrly for school teachers who want to do the project with their class (it is ideal for key stages 2, 3 and 4 and fits into the school term in England & Wales) and naturalists who wish to discover more about parasitoids.

All you need is:

  • an infected conker tree
  • a ‘zip-lock’ bag
  • a magnifying glass or eye lens
  • a few minutes in early July to collect a leaf
  • a few minutes in late July to record your results

Your mission in brief:

  • Find your infected conker tree (see here for help with tree identification).  Record any information you will need to find the tree on a map.
  • During the first week of July, pick a leaf that is within your reach; choose from it one leaflet (a ‘finger’ of the hand-like leaf).
  • Record the number of leaf mines (whitish blotches) in the leaf.
  • Seal your leaf in a ‘zip-lock’ bag.
  • Wait until late July, then count and identify the tiny insects that emerge – are they alien moths, pest controllers, or other insects, like aphids?  If you can see one pest controller, that means one alien moth has been killed by it!
read more

Bird Attack

Mission: bird attack

Can blue tits save our conkers? Birds, such as blue tits attack the alien moths damaging conker trees.
(photo: Richard Broughton)

Discover whether birds can save our conker trees, by recording how many of the leaf-mining moths have suffered bird attacks.

This mission began in 2013 in response to questions posed by people participating in Conker Tree Science. From now on we are not collecting the results, but we have left the information here particularly for school teachers who want to do the project with their class (it is ideal for key stages 2, 3 and 4).

All you need is:

  • a few minutes looking at a conker tree which has leaves that have been damaged by the leaf mining moth.
  • take part any time durign the summer and early autumn (September is often ideal)
  • you don’t need to watch the birds themselves

Bird attacks are very distinctive. Here the top surface of the leaf, where the alien moth caterpillar was hiding, has been torn away by a bird.
(photo: Michael Pocock)

Your mission in brief:

  • Find your infected conker tree (see here for help with tree identification).
    Record any information you will need to find the tree on a map.  If you can’t find a conker tree that is infected, please complete Mission: alien moth survey instead.
  • Select a leaf that is within your reach and look at the whole leaf (all of the ‘fingers’ of the hand-like leaf).
  • Count the number of bird attacks.
  • Give the leaf a damage score.
  • Choose three other leaves from different parts of the same tree, and do the same (count bird attacks and give the leaf a damage score).
read more

If it’s green or wriggles, it’s Biology – If it stinks, it’s chemistry – If it doesn’t work, it’s Physics.