By Robin McKie Science editor

Trees are coming under attack from beetles and moths that are infesting imported timber

In July 2013, a large, strangely shaped beetle emerged from the fabric of a wooden chair that had just been bought in the UK. The inch-long creature had developed inside the chair’s wooden frame before it ate its way to the surface and burst through the seat’s plastic covering – much to the alarm of its purchaser. Crucially, the furniture had been made in, and imported from, China.

Analysis by Fera Science, formerly the Food and Environment Research Agency, showed the beetle was a Japanese pine sawyer. Worse, the beetle was found to be infested with a second serious pest: the pinewood nematode worm. In combination, the beetle (Monochamus alternatus) and worm (Bursaphelenchus xylophilus) have been linked to widespread damage to pine forests in China and Japan. Now it is spreading through parts of Europe.