Horse chestnut leaf miners were living on natural stands of trees in Greece a century before they were first described by science, a study shows.
The discovery was made by researchers who examined many of Europe’s historic herbarium collections.
They say it offers an insight to the history and origins of the tiny moths, which are blighting many of the continent’s horse chestnuts.
The findings will appear in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment journal.
“It is a moth that has been the target of a lot of research recently because it has been expanding [its range] so fast – much faster than other kinds of leaf-mining moths,” explained co-author David Lees from the French Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA).
The larval form of the Cameraria ohridella moth feed inside the leaves of the white flowering horse chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum), producing characteristic “mines” between the leaves’ veins.
The creatures do not kill the tree but infested trees may produce smaller conkers.
Dr Lees said C. ohridella was spreading its range by about 60km (40 miles) across Europe each year.
The small but highly invasive moth was first discovered in 1984, and first described by scientists as a genus new to Europe in just 1986. Since then, it has expanded its range across almost all of Europe.
HONG KONG – INSPIRED by tiny caterpillars, Treebot may be China’s new answer to forest preservation.
The slinky robot grips trees with spidery legs to climb and is equipped with a camera to spot any dangers to forests high amidst the leaves. Its segmented body allows it to negotiate complex branches and make turns.
Xu Yangsheng, a professor at the Chinese University in Hong Kong, said nature gave him the idea for his creation. ‘I used to basically observe how inchworms actually walk on the trees and I like this idea very much,’ he said.
‘I thought we should develop a robot monitoring the situation in the forest, especially now there are so many fires, so many environmental disasters happening in the forest areas.’ Treebot’s camera transmits images in real time and it can support a solar cell, so potentially there would be no need to halt its work to recharge. And while it weighs in at only 600g it can carry three times its weight.
‘It can climb different kids of trees: smooth surface, rough surface, big or small and different directions. Also, it can automatically cling to branches so its mobility is good,’ Dr Xu said.
The robot still needs some refining – the camera doesn’t work well in low light and it tends to slip when trees are wet – but Dr Xu says the potential is obvious and he hopes it will soon be crawling its way into trees around the world. — REUTERS
Hawaii agriculture officials are asking for the public’s help in spotting infestations of the stinging nettle caterpillar, which appears to have recently spread to Kauai.
The state Department of Agriculture said Wednesday Kauai residents may begin to see more of the bugs during the summer, the peak months for the species.
The Big Island, Maui, and Oahu already have established populations of the caterpillar, which carries a painful sting.
Last August, a Kauai plant nursery owner found one and turned it in to the agency’s plant quarantine branch. The department has since found adult moths in Wailua, Kapaa and Kilauea.
The caterpillar is white and has a long stripe running down its back. Those allergic to the bug may have difficulty breathing or develop other serious symptoms after being stung.