Contrary to unkind gossip, bark beetles generally are not the cause of tree death. They eat stuff that’s already dead; they are part of the cleanup crew. An evergreen tree may look alive for up to a year or more, depending on its size, after it has ceased to live. This has to do with nutrients traveling from the roots up through the tree, and dutifully completing their travels even after the roots have given out. (Actually, this is true of any plant, but trees are often ginormous, so the whole process takes longer.) I think this is why bark beetles have been given such a bad rap: we think they’re chowing down on live plants, but really they’re just picking up the recycling.
If we could translate these little scribblings, I wonder what the bark beetles would have to say about us…
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Beetleglyphs, c. 2010
Ilford Delta 400