Published on : Thursday, March 2, 2017
Japan’s iconic cherry blossoms have always attracted millions of tourists to the country every year. However, these blossoms are under attack from a foreign species of beetle that experts fear could decimate trees across the nation.
According to the Environment Ministry, the red-necked longhorn beetle, or Aromia bungii is a dangerous invasive alien species which is affecting the trees badly. The move has come too late for hundreds of cherished cherry trees across the country, however, after beetles were imported into Japan in cargoes of lumber from China, Vietnam and other parts of south-east Asia, local newspaper reported.
In 2012 the first beetle was identified in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan following which hundreds more trees have been felled in Tokyo as well as the prefectures of Saitama, Gunma, Tokushma, Tochigi and Osaka. According to the experts, it is conceivable that cherry-blossom viewing spots will disappear from Japan in several decades.
The ephemeral two-week season of the blossoms is a huge tourist draw, with more than 2 million enjoying the spectacle in March last year. The figures had more than 20,000 arrivals from Britain and were up nearly 13 percent on the same month in the previous year.
Experts warn that the beetles reproduce rapidly and prefer cherry and peach trees. The creatures grow up to 1.5 inches in length and bore into the trunk of the trees before emerging in the summer months.