Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Mission: pest controllers

Conker Tree Science
Can tiny parasitic wasps help to save our conker trees?

Believe it or not there are dozens of different kinds of tiny wasps (only distantly related to the stinging wasps that we are so familiar with) that attack the horse-chestnut leaf-miner. These wasps are so small that they lay their eggs inside the leaf-miner as it is eating the horse-chestnut leaf from the inside out! The developing wasp larvae eat the leaf-miner from the inside out and then burst out of the caterpillar, in the process killing it and so acting as a natural pest controller.

Can these potential pest controllers actually help by parasitising enough of the leaf-miners to control it's numbers? Given that we have so many of the leaf-miners in this country it would seem that they cannot, but we are interested in finding out more about them.

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