You will have noticed that horse chestnut leaves are turning brown and curling up as the summer progresses, and by the time the leaves normally fall, there are few left. The trees have lost a lot of their summer and autumn beauty as a result.

The cause is the Chestnut Leaf Miner Moth, Cameraria ohridella, which lays its eggs along the leaf veins in the springtime. When the eggs hatch, hundreds of minute larvae penetrate the veins and cut off the water supply to the leaf cells, so the leaf turns brown and usually curls up and falls off.

The larvae pupate and over-winter among the leaf litter, to emerge as moths in the spring and start the cycle over. This is not thought to be fatal as the trees seem to cope with it.

The only way to cure this currently is to sweep up the leaf litter and (preferably) compost it under 10 cms of soil, or 30 cms of other compost until at least May the following year. The quicker alternative is to burn it, but that is less sustainable and creates smoke and attendant emissions.

The Challenge:

Could we take this on as a village challenge this and next year, and remove all the leaf litter from under our horse chestnuts and dispose of it? It would be a real bonus to see healthy trees once again.