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Deadly Chinese beetle threatening Sussex woodland
A deadly Chinese beetle is the latest threat to Sussex woodland – with thousands of trees thought to be at risk.
Forestry Commission (FC) experts fear the Asian Longhorn Beetle may have made its way into the county after being spotted in neighbouring Kent last year.
The bugs, which have distinctive antennas often twice the length of their body, have been described as a “serious threat” to a wide range of broadland trees in Sussex.
It is thought they arrived last year in a shipping container carrying wood from Asia.
Forestry Commission and government bosses are now calling on the public to help them monitor and eradicate the risk.
Martin Ward, the government’s chief plant health officer, said: “We cannot do this work alone, and we need the public to act as our eyes and ears in gardens, parks, woodlands and workplaces to help us spot threats quickly before they become a serious problem.
“The public can really help us at this time of year by looking out for the pest. It thrives in climates similar to ours, and their establishment could result in losses of trees from a wide range of species.”
The beetle was discovered last year near Paddock Wood in Kent – just 10 miles from the Sussex border.
Nearby trees were destroyed just days after the discovery in an attempt to eradicate the bug.
However, it is feared some escaped and have spread.
The beetles are knownto stay close to infestation sites but are capable of flying several kilometres.
Late summer months are the best timeto spot the beetle as they emerge from trunks and branches to lay eggs.
They are typically between 2cm and 4cm long with a shiny black body and white markings.
Among the trees susceptible to the bug include maple, sycamore, birch, elm, apple, pear, ash, beech and horse chestnut.
As well as asking members of the public to be vigilant, the authorities are urging port workers to check all imports from Asia.
Dr John Morgan, head of the Forestry Commission’s plant health service, added: “These beetles could threaten a wide range of ornamental, fruit and woodland trees, and the public and trade have a vital role to play.”
The threat is the latest in a series to face the county’s woodland.
Experts continue to keep a check on Ash Dieback while there are growing fears about the return of Dutch elm disease.
Anyone who spots the beetle should isolate it (ideally in a glass jar) and contact the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate on 01904 465625 or by emailing planthealth.info@ fera.gsi.gov.uk.
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