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Bark beetles : the larger eight toothed bark beetle

Bark beetles : the larger eight toothed bark beetle

by Lewis ~ 25 June, 2019 ~ comments welcome

The woodlands’ blog has reported on outbreaks of bark beetles in the States and Canada but as of 16th January this year, measures were put in place to protect the UK from the larger eight toothed spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus). This beetle has been a problem on continental Europe for many years; it has been estimated that Germany lost some 30 million cubic metres of timber (between 1945 and 1949) to bark beetles. Spruce is a commercially important species, with perhaps some 800,000 hectares in the UK.  On the continent, the beetle has also been found living in pine, larch and douglas firThe beetle was found in Kent last December.  The special measures restrict the movement of spruce in a 50 km area around the outbreak.  Details of this area can be found here. Read more...

Can the UK keep out tree diseases? - a view from Professor Nicola Spence

Can the UK keep out tree diseases? – a view from Professor Nicola Spence

by Angus ~ 16 April, 2019 ~ one comment

Recently, I met up with Nicola Spence, the UK's Chief Plant Health Officer: her observations took me on a hair-raising tour of the battlements that keep British trees safe from foreign invaders. To give an idea of the importance of plant health she pointed out that in the 1960s and 1970s Dutch Elm Disease from Europe killed between 10 and 20 million trees; the recent Ash Dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus), which also came from continental Europe, is in the process of wiping out about 80% of the UK's ash trees. Consequently her department is very vigilant to stop any further invasions of pathogens or insects that could attack our trees. For example Defra and the Forestry Commission have successfully dealt with localised outbreaks of Sweet chestnut blight and in Kent there was a recent infestation of trees by the Asian Longhorn Beetle which meant cutting down and incinerating all trees within a 100 metre radius.

Read more...

Disease in American deer - chronic wasting disease (zombie deer disease).

Disease in American deer – chronic wasting disease (zombie deer disease).

by Chris ~ 27 February, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) affects deer, sika deer, reindeer, elk and moose. It was recorded in the wild in the United States some forty years ago, but had been seen in captive deer back in the 1960’s. Now the number of reported / observed cases is increasing; it is spreading in the United States and Canada.  Some 24 states in the U.S  and two Canadian provinces have recorded cases.

Chronic wasting disease also known as ‘Zombie Deer Disease’ affects the central nervous system of the animal.  The deer experience loss of co-ordination, weight loss, bouts of extreme aggression. And eventual death.  It is a neuro-degenerative disease.  The affected animals have a ‘wasted appearance’ and a ‘vacant stare’. Read more...

leaves of tree of heaven

Unusual or exotic trees – the tree of heaven

by Lewis ~ 13 December, 2018 ~ comments welcome

The Tree of Heaven or Ailanthus altissima is a species which was introduced to the U.K in 1751 from China.  It arrived in the United States somewhat later, circa 1785 to the Philadelphia area.  It was brought in as an ornamental or exotic tree.  The first introductions were cuttings from male trees.  Ailanthus is a dioecious species, i.e. a tree produces either male or female flowers. So these first trees could not spread or colonise.  However, seeds were then introduced and grown so that there were both male and female trees, and reproduction was possible.

The tree has been grown in gardens, parks and civic settings for many years and is ‘valued’ for its rapid growth, attractive foliage [and colourful, winged fruits]. It flowers and fruits well in hot summers. Read more...

box moth

The Box Moth – food, sex and death

by Angus ~ 24 October, 2018 ~ comments welcome

The box moth has recently been ravaging the box hedges of Britain.  Box hedges are like jam sandwiches to these hungry caterpillars and they are making gardens and woodlands unsightly and in some places they are putting at risk the survival of traditional hedging.  Surprising as it may seem, there is an organisation dedicated to promoting boxwood - the European Boxwood and Topiary Society which celebrates and protects ornamental gardens across Europe.

Box Moths (Cydalima perspectalis) come in two forms - the common variant and the darker melanic variant.  Like most animals, their main activities are eating and sex.  The eating is mainly done by the caterpillars which eat the box leaves and create a trail of cobwebs and leaf pellets - part of an affected box bush is shown below :- Read more...

A problem with mistletoe ?

A problem with mistletoe ?

by Lewis ~ 2 January, 2018 ~ one comment

When you look around this week, you might see suspended from the ceiling or a light fitment - a rather sad and shrivelled piece of mistletoe.  Mistletoe is well known for its connection to Christmas, in particular for the custom of “kissing underneath the mistletoe”.  The mistletoe has separate male and female plants; it is DIOECIOUS.  It follows that the male plants will not produce berries and they have no commercial value - as they do not yield berry-laden sprigs for Christmas decorations.  This use of mistletoe may be rooted in festive legends of 'fertility and life giving powers'. Read more...

Another threat to bees - the Asian hornet.

Another threat to bees – the Asian hornet.

by Chris ~ 16 August, 2017 ~ comments welcome

There is a now a species alert for the Asian or Yellow legged hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax). It is an invasive, non-native species from Asia.  It feeds on honey bees and other beneficial insects such as hover flies and bumble bees.  The hornet hovers outside bee hives, waiting to catch and then kill bees as they return from foraging. It can cause significant losses to bee colonies / hives.

Indeed Professor Matt Keeling has predicted that if nests of the asian hornet are left to thrive in the U.K. then within two decades British populations of honey bees will be at risk. Read more...

Box shrub

Trouble in the garden

by Lewis ~ 23 April, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Topiary is often on display in our parks and gardens, and many of the stately homes managed by the National trust have exceptional displays.  One species that is a great favourite for topiary is Box (Buxus sempervirens).  Box has small green leaves and a dense growth habit; it is hardy and poisonous (contains an alkaloid - buxine, which causes respiratory paralysis).. It was once planted close to houses (according to folklore) to deter witches entering.  It was used extensively in formal gardens since Tudor times.   However, Box is now under threat from pathogens that result in Box Blight, and also the caterpillar of the Box tree Moth from Asia. Read more...

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