Scientists urge people to log on to leaf miner survey

Scientists have launched a study to try to discover just how big a problem is posed by horse chestnut leaf miner.

Dr Darren Evans of the University of Hull and Dr Michael Pocock of Bristol teamed up to find out the scale of infestation of Cameraria Ohridella, present in the UK for 8 years.

The survey is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), said Dr Pocock, who is inviting people to log on to the internet to record tree details.

"People can log the location of the tree, either with or without the indication of alien moths, into our website," he said.

The information is then fed into the national database of Forest Research, which has been recording the spread of the species since it's arrival.

The leaf miner study will be followed by a second survey into the presence of a parasitic wasp, which is the leaf miner's predator.

"We want people to collect an infected horse chestnut leaf and put it into the bag," he said. "Within 2 weeks moths or tiny parasitic wasps — or possibly both — should emerge and people can record on our website what, if anything, comes out of their leaf."

The presence of this parasitic wasp was fairly rare in Europe, said Dr Evans. "We think there is a time lag between the moth infesting a tree and the wasps attacking the caterpillars.

"We need the public's help to test whether this is the case, especially in areas that have recently been invaded."

To participate in the survey click here.


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