Though the damage to leaves does not kill the tree, the moths' dramatically quick migration through Europe is touching off alarms in North America and Asia, where the insect could easily thrive once introduced.
Experts say the moth may also be evolving, in some places now infesting sycamore as well as horse chestnut trees.
"Like the opening of Pandora's box, this moth, first discovered in Macedonia in 1984, has spread like wildfire after a probable accidental release near Vienna in 1989," says page author and curator David Lees of the Natural History Museum, London and INRA, Paris. "It is now more or less throughout Europe and poses a threat to ecosystems in Southeast Asia, North America and elsewhere - wherever the beautiful horse chestnut trees occur."
"An important ornamental tree is being devastated, one all too obvious in parks at this time of year," says Dr. Lees.
Like the "most wanted" posters in post offices, EOL will facilitate public recognition and awareness of such invasive species through detailed descriptions and maps, helping to slow their global spread and enable more rapid and effective remedial measures.
It is also expected to help map the present locations and movements of human disease vectors such as crows and mosquitoes and the shifting ranges of species due to climate change.
Unraveling secrets of long life
Scientists are equipping EOL for use in finding patterns within biodiversity lifespan and other life history data that could help explain, for example, why certain species, even those within the same family, live longer than others, opening promising new avenues of research into human aging.
Holly Miller, who leads the Biology of Aging Portal (www.biologyofaging.org) informatics research group in the Library at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods H
|Contact: Terry Collins|
Encyclopedia of Life