Distribution

The moth's type locality is 6km south of Lake Ohrid in Macedonia at 705m elevation, where it was discovered in 1984. The species may have been present at this site in the southern Balkans some time before that.

It now has a Palaearctic distribution. It was first detected outside the Balkans in Austria in 1989, had reached France by 2000, and was first detected in the United Kingdom in 2002.

The most recent distribution map for Europe is that of Augustin (2009), and fine scale distribution maps are available for various countries such as UK and Poland (Buszko, 2006) and Lithuania (Ivinskis and Rimšaitë, 2006). Visit the Forestry Commission website for the UK distribution map.

Ecological niche

Few organisms regularly inhabit the leaves of planted trees. Those that do include:

  • the Asian horse-chestnut scale insect - Pulvinaria regalis Canard
  • the dothidiomycete leaf blotch fungus Guignardia aesculi (Peck) V B Stewart of North American origin (Augustin, 2005)
  • a powdery mildew Erysiphe flexuosa (Peck) U Braun et S Takamatsuhas that is either invasive from North America or may be of Balkan origin (Denchev, 2008)

The lack of leaf-mining competitors as well as specialist parasitoid wasps has given Cameraria ohridella an almost free reign to colonise clean plants.

In addition, there are no other leaf-miners or other regular lepidopteran herbivores on horse-chestnut. Nevertheless, 11 polyphagous species of tortricids, geometrids and noctuids were recorded to attack the tree outside its natural range in Turkey (Cebeci and Acer, 2007).

Habitat

The moth is commonly found in parks and urban areas where horse-chestnut is planted, and within natural stands in the Balkans (Valade et al, 2009).

It prefers the shadier lower to mid-stratum of trees, tending to avoid the canopy (Syeryebryennikov, 2008).

Horse-chestnut itself prefers moist, well drained soils and is not widely planted in North America. Natural stands of A. hippocastanum in the Balkans (Greece, Macedonia, Albania) are found in shady, humid ravines at 380-1330m (Avtzis et al, 2007; Lack, 2000), and this is presumably the natural habitat of the moth.

Although the moth can oviposit on other species of Aesculus including red-flowered horse-chestnuts (A. x carnea), these species are not seriously affected, and the leaves are not conducive to larval survival and development.

In some places, the species develops on sycamores Acer pseudoplatanus and other Acer species (Hellrigl, 2001; Kenis et al 2005).

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