Sunday, 19 October 2014


Today Darren and Michael from the Conker Tree Science project were on Countryfile talking about the project and the leaf-mining moth.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Another May Day - another generation of leaf miners

May Day celebrations in my south Oxfordshire village, with may pole, ice cream van, lots of fun and a flowering horse-chestnut in the background. How typically English!

But once again the signs of change are present. Here are the first of this year's generation of horse-chestnut leaf-miner (Cameraria ohridella). The first mines will be seen in 3-4 weeks - before the trees' leaves turn brown in mid-summer.

This year is the first year we will not be running Conker Tree Science in the way that we have for the past four years. We are presently updating the website ready for the leaf-miner season, with more news soon.

Monday, 31 March 2014

The project in numbers and icons

Here are summaries of Conker Tree Science 2010-13 in numbers and icons. Click on the images to download a larger version or click the link below to get the pdf version with hyperlinks.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Press releases

I wanted to gather together all the press releases from the four years of the Conker Tree Science project, so here they are!

22 Jan 2014.The Moth vs the Crowd: Tracking an alien invader of conker trees using people power. [CEH]
30 Aug 2012. Nationwide mission underway to see if blue tits can help save our conker trees [CEH]

6 Jul 2011. Nationwide mission to save conkers from alien invaders gets underway [UoB]
9 Jul 2010. Can wasps help save Britain’s conker trees? [UoB]
10 Jun 2010. Conker trees facing peril from alien invaders [NERC] [UoB]
14 Jul 2009. School pupils help scientists research 'alien' moths damaging conker trees [UoB]

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The first results are published!

For a scientist, one of the measures of good quality science is for the work to be 'peer-reviewed' (assessed by other scientists) and published in a scientific journal.

So, is Conker Tree Science good quality science? The answer is a definite 'yes' because today the first scientific paper from the project was published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE!

Anyone can read about the scientific results of the project on the PLOS ONE website.
The paper is quite detailed but the simple summary of the paper is as follows:

  • Can ordinary people do real, important and interesting science? Yes, most definitely!
  • How bad is the damage caused by the moth? Pretty bad - within 3 years of the moth arriving in a location it looks like autumn has come early to the conker trees.
  • Why is the moth doing so well at damaging our conker trees? We discovered one reason is because the natural pest-controllers (tiny parasitic wasps) are just not occurring in large enough numbers.

Once again, the mention of a threat to conker trees in a press release and the nation's media gets excited. So far we have seen that the Conker Tree Science project has featured in:

So once again a thank you to all those who participated in the project and contributed data.