Saturday, November 10, 2012

What the Heck is That? #2

It is a coolish fall day and the thought occurred to me that soon I will be wanting a fire in the old fireplace. And, to start a fire you need kindling. I don't have to go far to get what I need. I have an entire backyard of kindling.

My backyard

Now to get someone to pick it up for me. And, . . . .that someone would be me.

I started picking up all of these nice pencil-sized shellbark hickory limbs thinking they would make good fire starter. 

Shellbark hickory limbs

I began to notice something strange. The ends of the limbs were perfect cuts. Almost like a miniature beaver had its way with them.

My good friend, Cecil (yes, someday I will write about him but I can't do him justice in my blog. . he is a one-of-a-kind) informed me that it was the Twig Girdler beetle. Ack!

The Twig Girdler is simply trying to complete its life cycle in my trees. The adult beetle emerges in late August-October to feed on the bark near the ends of the branches. The adult lays its eggs during the cutting process and the twigs are girdled because the larvae are unable to survive in living twigs.

The small larvae hatch and overwinter in the dead twig and when spring arrives, the larvae grow rapidly. They migrate to the end of the twig where they transform into a beetle in 14 days! This happens usually in August and thus there is only one generation a year. That is the good news.

The bad news is insect control is difficult since the larvae are protected in the twig. The best method of controlling these creepy crawlies is to accept the problem, rake up all terminal branches (remember there are some still hanging in the trees) and burn them. Ah, ha! A fire after all!


  1. Awwww.... Ann, am I really "one-of-a-kind"?
    I wonder what kind. LOL
    I see that you have the same problem that I have regarding those beetles.
    That solution may be what I need to try... gather the twigs up and put them in the fireplace..... but there may be many of them scattered around.
    Oh, well, we see nature doing it's thing.... as usual.
    Thanks for the timely blog.

  2. No doubt about it - beetles are bad. Just lost a very huge Pine to nasty beetles. You can actually hear those suckers munching!

  3. Adventures of Ann - Nature Detective!
    Learning so much from your blog.

  4. Very interesting! I think I may have seen those perfectly chewed sticks before. Never occurred to me it was beetles. I also have seen these beetles. Next time I want a look at their teeth! ha ha
    Thanks for the info! Eva Cox

  5. Nice. Great observation. Thank you for sharing.