What's happening to our conker trees?
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 there are so many that all the leaves turn brown, and it looks like autumn has come early.
We need your help to discover more about natural pest control of the leaf miners.
Our conker trees are under attack by 'alien' invaders!
The damage is caused by a tiny 'alien' species of leaf-mining moth, which has spread across much of the UK since 2002. The moth’s caterpillars eat the leaves from the inside. Infected trees are weakened, and produce smaller conkers.
Fortunately, there may be help at hand. Some of the leaf-mining moths are attacked by natural pest controllers, in the form of tiny insects (called parasitoids). These insects lay their eggs inside the caterpillars of the leaf-mining moths, and their larvae eat the caterpillars, eventually killing them.
Take part in citizen science!
Back in 2010, about 2,000 people took part in a citizen science study on the leaf-mining moths and their pest controllers and the results were published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. We found that pest controllers were present - but the numbers were too low to control the leaf miner.
Now, in 2020, we want to discover what has changed over the decade: have the numbers of pest controllers stayed at a low level, or are they increasing? Once again, we cannot do it without you - so take part in the Mission: pest controllers!
Mission: pest controllers
Between 4th and 13th July (inclusive)
Between 18th and 24th July (two weeks later)
Interested in a new project to discover more about our connections to nature?
From 14th July, you can also take part in Nature Up Close & Personal: A Wellbeing Experiment. It's an investigation into the activities that support our connectedness to nature and our wellbeing. We'll give you short nature-based activities to do over the course of a week and ask how they made you feel. Together we'll be able to find out more about nature and our wellbeing.
Interested in discovering more about citizen science?
This project supports the United Nation's International Year of Plant Health.
Damage to horse-chestnut leaves
The horse-chestnut leaf-miner
Collect leaves like these to find out more about the