The season of cherry blossoms is officially open in Japan, but experts warn that these iconic fruit trees of the archipelago are now threatened by a beetle from abroad.
The invader is called " aromia bungii ", known as the Red-necked Long-horned Beetle, originating in China, Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula or northern Vietnam.
He lives in cherry or plum trees and strips them of their bark to absorb the water. In the worst case, the invasion of this parasite can kill a tree.
"If we do not take action, the damage could be significant and we may not be able to appreciate + hanami + (the contemplation of flowers) in a few years," Etsuko Shoda-Kagaya told AFP on Thursday. , a researcher at the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute.
Spotted for the first time in 2012 in central Aichi Prefecture, this beetle is now approaching Tokyo, according to the Ministry of Environment which officially classified in January the longico in the list of invasive alien species.
Experts believe he was able to enter Japan via the importation of wooden materials.
"The damage will spread if we do nothing", s also worries Makoto Miwa, Center for Environmental Science, Saitama, North Tokyo
Larvae of this longhorn beetle should be eliminated through pesticides and severely affected trees cut down to save others, he said.
The Center published a guide last month to help identify and kill this parasite that measures between three and four centimeters.
"It's important to work with locals to get rid of this insect, it takes time and we need a lot of people to check each tree," says Kagaya.
"I understand that it is hard for some people to cut cherry trees, but it is important to act before the damage spreads," she insists.
The season of cherry blossoms officially began last week in Tokyo, with the observation of the first flowers at the Yasukuni Shrine.
The Meteorological Agency reported that cherry blossom had started nine days earlier this year due to warmer weather.
The phenomenon is closely scrutinized each year, and forecasters publish maps of the archipelago describing the flowering periods in each region of the country. It attracts many tourists but also the Japanese who find themselves in parks and gardens to picnic under these trees.