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Friday, 28 November 2008

Limb-eating insects

Ok, thats a pretty scary sounding title for this post. But actually it is quite scary what these insects seem to be able to do. This branch fell down on top of 2 cars that were parked innocently on the side of the road.

On closer inspection, you can see the core of this branch had been entirely eaten away, and there were insects busy trying to burrow away deeper into the tree.

There were 2 of these insects on the ground next to the severed limb. They were anemic-looking and slightly translucent, and both were about 2 inches long. It looked like 2 pairs of wings were busy forming close to the head. Any ideas as to what this creature is?

Falling branches and trees seems to be on the increase in Durban lately. The windy conditions don't help, but at the core (literally) of this problem seems to be insects that eat their way into the trunks and branches of trees. Most often its white ants, but it seems other insects seem to be capable of just as much damage.

The problem is that this is all happening below the surface of apparently healthy trees. Looking at the tree itself there were no obvious signs of the damage being done on the inside. This is something that will start happening more often now that a lot of our street trees have matured and are showing signs of old age and weakening, and are therefore more susceptible to insects and disease.


Garden Wise Guy said...

Ross - no idea who the culprit is, but I'd have to imagine that there are arborists in your area who can pin-point the problem. It might be helpful to some people to include the types of trees that have had this problem, as there are usually specific pests to specific trees.

Here in California, we have a service through the University of California system called UC Farm Advisors who are our best source of up-to-date pest problems, whether agricultural or home garden. Perhaps there's some government or university run program that is similar?

Good luck.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Funny how some bugs can close the road. I am guessing but maybe some type of termite.

stoneware70 said...

Billy - the tree is a Trichelia dregeana (Natal Mahogany) its a very common street tree - quite beautiful but badly chosen as a street tree because of its propensity to drop twigs and small branches. I'm sure there is someone I could go to for identification - probably the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal? I suppose I thought I would go the lazy route and see if anybody could identify the culprits for me;-)

DFP - That was my first thought too, but they were too big (2 inches long) - I thought they looked more like some kind of large beetle?

Unknown said...

these ugly beetles are eating my tree too. i have early stage larvae in the branches and huge (2-3 in.)adult form beetles in the trunk. Has anyone found a name for this horrible bug?

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