UK: Bugspittle to determine information on a deadly plant disease in the UK

Scientists in the UK are hiring thousands of volunteers to document spittle from spittlebugs across the country. Reports suggest the findings will help to map the sightings of the insect across UK and also help in the strike against Xylella, a deadly plant disease.

Xylella fastidiosa first arrived six years ago and has been prominent in many EU countries. Owing to recent reports, UK has been put on high alert of Xylella. According to Dr Rebekah Robinson, who works as senior plant pathologist at the Royal Horticultural Society; since Xylella has 563 different host plants around the world, it could affect several garden plants including Rosemary, Lavender and the Oak. “One of the really devastating things that could happen is that it could actually affect our native tree species as well, things like oak trees, a number of different ash species, sycamore – key plants in our landscape,” she stated.

Moreover, if Xylella is found in the UK it would call for destruction of all host plants within 100m and it would also induce immediate movement restrictions on some plants within a 5km radius for up to five years, experts suggest. Furthermore, the plant disease is recorded as one of the most dangerous pathogens in the world.

The spittle will help to understand how Xylella might enter and spread in the UK. Through the spittlebug insect derivations can be drawn on where they can be found in the country, what kind of plants they feed on and which habitats they occupy, reported Dr Alan Stewart from the University of Sussex.

The spittlebug is a sap-sucking insect, which is very small in size. In the UK there are ten species of the spittlebug and they are often to be found in the meadows, gardens, woodlands, and grasslands from the month of April to June.


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