What's happening to our conker trees?
Our conker trees are under attack by 'alien' invaders! Take part in real science to discover more about conker tree health by taking part in our missions.
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.
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.
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Take part in the missions:
Mission: bird attack - from 28 August 2013
Mission: alien moth survey - from 15 June 2013
(Now finished for this year - see results)