The demarcated area in the south of England that was put in place to combat the spread of the tree pest Ips typographus, also known as eight-tooth European spruce bark beetle, has been extended following further findings of the insect.

The new findings were made following routine plant health surveillance activities carried out by the Forestry Commission. As a result, the existing demarcated area in Kent, Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex has been extended to cover parts of Hampshire.

Within the demarcated area, the movement of susceptible tree material such as spruce wood, bark and branches is restricted.

The Forestry Commission is also urging increased vigilance currently, in light of the new findings. Any sightings should also be reported to the Forestry Commission via its TreeAlert online portal.

An extensive network of pheromone traps has already been positioned across the southeast to monitor for potential incursions of the pest from the continent and to identify suspect sites.

Commenting on today's extension, Jane Hull, Forestry Commission area director for the southeast and London, said:

“The enhanced plant health enforcement actions announced today will prevent this potentially damaging pest from becoming established, protect the forestry sector, and ensure our vital spruce are retained within the landscape."

Bark beetle

The southeast of England in particular is vulnerable to the arrival of the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle because it can naturally be blown over from Europe.

The larger eight-toothed European spruce bark beetle is considered a serious pest of spruce trees in Europe and was first found in the wider environment in Norway spruce in woodlands in Kent in 2018, as part of routine plant health surveillance activity.

The beetle is mainly a secondary pest, preferring stressed or weakened trees.

Because of this, in the long-term, the Forestry Commission is encouraging landowners in the affected regions to remove stressed or weakened spruce and replant with other species to limit potential spread of Ips typographus.

The beetles bore into wood where they attract mates and lay eggs.

Adult Ips typographus beetles are approximately 5mm long.