• Ash bark beetle - an unwitting artist

    Out yesterday when I came upon a collapsed ash pollard next to a hedgerow. Been down a couple of years I'd say & much of the bark was peeling away. Suddenly became quite fascinated by the indentations left in the sapwood, beneath the bark, by burrowing ash bark beetles. The patterns are reminiscent of the same ones left by that introducer of deadly Dutch elm disease, the elm bark beetle, but in this case, thankfully the ash bb does not introduce a harmful fungus to the tree. In fact, in most cases, the ash bb only burrows into the bark of dead or dying ash trees. The central channel is bored out by the female, where she then lays her eggs & as the larvae hatch out they then chew their way sideways, making the lateral channels. How strange that they so seldom cross over, thus interfering with their brood mates and their progressive munching, prior to hatching out, boring out through the bark and the whole process beginning all over again.

    Although this invasion of 'fly', as the old craftsmen called it, was a nuisance to them as it spoiled the wood, there is a certain beauty to this methodically hewn heiroglyph.

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Archie Miles photography

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