What's happening to our conker trees?
Our conker trees are under attack by 'alien' invaders!
Have you noticed whitish patches on the leaves of horse chestnut trees? By the middle of summer, the whitish patches die and turn brown. Sometimes whole trees turn brown, and it looks like autumn has come early.
The damage is caused by a tiny 'alien' species of leaf-mining moth, which is invading the UK. For biologists, an 'alien' is a species not naturally found in an area or habitat. The moth’s caterpillars eat the leaves from the inside. Infected trees are weakened, and produce smaller conkers.
Can birds or bug-eating bugs save the trees?
Luckily, there is help at hand. Some of the leaf-mining moths are killed by birds that prey upon the caterpillars. Others are killed by natural pest controllers, in the form of tiny insects. These insects lay their eggs inside the caterpillars of the leaf-mining moths, and when the eggs hatch, the larvae slowly eat the caterpillars, eventually killing them.
The brand new mission: bird attack has now started!
What can we do?
Scientists are finding out more about the invading alien moths and the pest controllers - see the video for more information.
Joining in today. Register today to receive news about the research and reminders when to take part. Your missions, should you choose to accept them, are:
Mission: alien moth survey - from 15 June 2012
Mission: pest controllers - from early July 2012
Mission: bird attack - from 28 August
Do you choose to accept your missions?
Register your interest to receive the results of our research, and to accept the missions.
Click here to find out more about the missions.
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