Japan’s Cherry Blossoms in danger over beetle

Japan’s capital is riddled with lovely, delicate pink and white cherry blossoms that are emerging after the winter season. However, the famed blooms are in grave danger: an invasive foreign beetle.


The alien invader is aromia bungii, also known as the red-necked longhorn beetle, is a native to mainland China, Taiwan, the Korean peninsula and northern Vietnam and has started its attack.


Photo credit to: https://phys.org

The beetles would live inside cherry and plum trees, eating the bark inside them. In serious cases, an infestation can kill a tree, and experts are sounding the alarm.


The beetle was first spotted in 2012 in central Aichi prefecture but has now spread across the surrounding areas in and around Tokyo. Experts say the bug may have entered Japan with imported wood materials.


Japan’s environment ministry in January officially designated the beetle as an invasive alien species, meaning simply selling it or transferring it are banned.


All Japanese and foreigners anticipate the arrival of cherry blossoms every year, with some forecasters publishing updated maps weeks and even months in advance.


Some experts say that beetle larva should be killed with pesticide and trees with advanced infestations should be cut down to save other trees.


A centre for protecting the trees has issued a guidebook with details on how to identify and kill the beetle, which grows up to three to four centimetres (1.2-1.6 inches).


Tokyo’s cherry blossom season officially started last week, or mid-March, as forecasters watching trees at Yasukuni Shrine announced that the city’s first blossoms had appeared.


Due to warmer weather, a meteorological agency said this year’s first blossoms appeared nine days ahead of schedule.


The cherry bloom trees attract tourists from all over the globe and is also great for tourism as well as locals who organise hanami or viewing parties in cherry-blossom hotspots.


Reference: Invasive beetle threatens Japan’s beloved cherry blossoms


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