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Hi, thanks for the comment on Mistletoe Diary (http://mistletoematters.wordpress.com/)today. The whole mistletoe 'threat' story has got a bit out of control in the wider media, and yes, you're right, there is no threat in the wider countryside - only in orchards. So all those scare stories about mistletoe extinction are groundless. National evidence suggest that it's spreading, especially in suburban habitats.

But we shouldn't entirely dismiss the threat to the orchard mistletoe as unimportant for mistletoe's wider value - there are implications for landscape, traditions, farm economy and, possibly (but possibly not) biodiversity issues. All of these latter aspects are difficult to assess - what will the impact of less harvestable mistletoe be for mistletoe buyers (wholesale or retail), and indeed mistletoe sellers? Mistletoe isn't a big money-spinner but it does bring in some cash for farmers with old orchards (in the core geographic area) each year.

And what are the habitat preferences of the mistletoe insects - do they like their mistletoe crowded and stressed (e.g. on old apple trees) or are they quite happy with it in open situations (e.g. halfway up a mature lime)? No one actually knows.

So, there's no threat to mistletoe as a species itself, but the threat to mistletoe in orchards will have knock-on impacts - certainly on the landscape in core area orchards, probably on local farm economics and, possibly/ possibly not, some biodiversity impacts too.

Jonathan Briggs

By the way - your insect image is wrongly labelled - you've got Pinalitus (formerly Orthops) viscicola and Psylla visci (actually P mali) in the pic but you've labelled it Ixapion variegatum and Anthocoris visci.

Thank you for your comments and for shedding more light upon it both with the insects and the goals of the League Project, Carol

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