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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Japan's cherry trees are threatened by an invading insect

Por Rory

The cherry blossom season is officially open in Japan, but some experts warn that these emblematic trees are now threatened by a beetle that has come from abroad. The invader is called "aromia bungii", known as long-horned beetle and red neck, originally from China, Taiwan, the Korean peninsula and northern Vietnam.

This parasite, which measures between three and four centimeters, lives in cherry or plum trees and strips its bark to absorb water. In the worst case, the invasion of this parasite can kill a tree. "If we do not take measures, the damages could be significant and we run the risk of not being able to appreciate the + hanami + (the contemplation of the flowers) within a few years," Etsuko Shoda-Kagaya of the Research Institute Forestry and Forest Products.

First detected in 2012 in the Aichi Prefecture in the center of the country, this coleopter is now approaching Tokyo, according to the Ministry of the Environment, which officially included it in January on the list of invasive foreign species. Experts believe that he could enter Japan through the importation of wood. "The damage will be extended if we do nothing," says Makoto Miwa of the Center for Science and Environment in Saitama (north of Tokyo). The larvae of this beetle should be eliminated with the help of pesticides and the most affected trees will be killed to save the rest, he said.

The Center published a guide last month to help identify and kill this parasite that is three to four centimeters long. "It is important to work with the population to get rid of this insect." This requires time and we need many people to examine each tree, "adds Kagaya."I understand that it is hard for some people to cut cherry trees but it is important to act before the damage is spread," he insisted.

The cherry blossom season officially began last week in Tokyo with the observation of the first flowers in the Yasukuni shrine. The meteorological agency indicated that flowering began nine days earlier this year due to warmer weather. The phenomenon is followed closely every year and specialists publish maps of the archipelago detailing the flowering periods in each region of the country. It attracts many tourists but also the Japanese who gather in the parks to eat under the trees.