The leaf miner moth (Cameraria ohridella) that arrived in the UK about a decade ago has spread widely, and many horse chestnut trees have been ravaged by its activities (see related posts / links). The brown, lifeless leaves that dangle from the branches in late summer are a clear sign of the activities of this insect. It had been hoped that certain parasitoid wasps might help control the leaf miner, but this is not the case. There is now the suggestion that birds, like blue tits, might help.
To find out whether this is the case, the CONKER TREE SCIENCE project http://www.conkertreescience.org.uk/ is asking for volunteers to take part in a nationwide survey. This project is run from the NERC’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the University of Hull. All that is involved is checking a conker tree near you for the characteristic damage that birds make when they peck out the larvae from the leaf – leaving a ‘gash’ in the leaf surface. Then all you have to do is to report back your findings on the website – by 23rd September.