04 February 2016

Peck Away

The poor ash tree has been gnawed from top to bottom.
I haven't counted exactly how many, but I'd guess we have several hundred trees on our small acreage. Most of them line the North side of our property and in the summer, they're quite impressive and shady and do an excellent job blocking the view of the road and making us feel like we're a little more secluded than we really are. In the winter, though, when everything is bare, they're a little less impressive. Sure, Jack enjoys going out about now and starting maple syrup season and we're literally burning through firewood, but otherwise, we don't notice the trees too much right about now...until we noticed one of the trees literally being chewed apart.
Source
We scratched our heads for a while and theorized what on earth was doing the damage. Squirrels? Chipmunks? Bobcat (haha, yeah, good guess Jack!)? Then, upon closer inspection and a bit of research and realizing just what tree was being attacked, it turns out the poor tree is most likely infested with the emerald ash borer larvae.
The woodpeckers have been making quick work of pulling out the insect larvae.
I remember first hearing about the nasty little insects when I worked for an entomologist in college and it was kind of a shock to actually see them in action. I'm all about letting nature balance itself--predator and prey, life and death--but things that seem to serve no purpose other than to destroy really annoy me (like ground bees...). There's nothing to do now that the tree has been pecked apart by the woodpeckers searching for the emerald ash borer larvae, who are actually the ones who kill the tree by feeding and living in the vital, live part of the tree trunk. A pesticide could be applied to the other ash trees, but the one that's infested will most likely die. We'll certainly use it for firewood when it is felled but it always seems a bit of a shame to have to chop down a tree in its prime.

I suppose I'll stop complaining about the occasionally woodpecker hacking away at our house when they can help keep those horrific little bugs at bay. Peck away, birdies. I don't mind.

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