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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.

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