Tuesday, 25 October 2016


Horse Chess nut trees appear to be a bit like Marmite,  Oscott residents either love them or hate them.

It has to be said, many in the area are over grown and at this time of year they cause real problems with their leaves, conker shells and branches strewn on the pavement as trip hazards. They can also shade out many gardens given their size, leaving residents unable to grow grass or other plants in front gardens.

On the other hand many residents love the splendour and elegance of these trees and the way the trees turn colour in the autumn. Of cause generations of children have loved if allowed to by the health and safety brigade to play conkers.

Sadly there may not be an opportunity even if you want to  see these trees as a combination of insects and decease is fast decimating these trees.

Our conker trees are under attack by 'alien' invaders! you may notice whitish patches on the leaves of horse chestnut trees?  By the middle of summer, the whitish patches die and turn brown.  Sometimes whole trees turn brown, and it looks like autumn has come early.

The damage is caused by a tiny 'alien' species of leaf-mining moth, which is invading the UK.  For biologists, an 'alien' is a species not naturally found in an area or habitat.  The moth’s caterpillars eat the leaves from the inside.  Infected trees are weakened, and produce smaller conkers.

Luckily, there is help at hand. Some of the leaf-mining moths are killed by birds that prey upon the caterpillars. Others are killed by natural pest controllers, in the form of tiny insects.  These insects lay their eggs inside the caterpillars of the leaf-mining moths, and when the eggs hatch, the larvae slowly eat the caterpillars, eventually killing them. However many trees are too fatally weakened and succumb to other decease's.

I had hoped that some Conker trees could have be planted in some of out open spaces but sadly I have been informed this cannot happen due to the trees being so badly effected.

What will happen to the Conker trees? some will be please to see the back of them and other sad to see them disappear. Only time will tell. I will ask the relevant department to keep an eye on the situation.

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