Tuesday, December 25, 2007

christmas in Belize


(this is just a pic i found on the internet, i'll post the ones i took when i can upload them)
As I am walking through the forest outside of Placencia, Belize (in the Toledo district), I notice very tall yet bare pine tree-looking trees scattered throughout the landscape. I ask my Belizian friend Francisco what kind of trees they are. They are in fact pine trees but they are not supposed to look like this, he says. He goes on to tell me that these trees are plagued by a beetle, Dendroctonus Frontalis, or the tree killer.
The attack starts out with the female beetle boring into the bark up to the phloem or living tissue under the bark of the tree. She then constructs a chamber and releases a pheromone which attracts the male. After he and the female mate, she then begins to construct tunnels under the bark where she lays up to 160 eggs. As she lays her eggs, she covers them with dust or frass. This is the main damage caused to the tree: she introduces a fungi called Blue Stain, which she has a mutual or symbiotic relationship with. The blue stain destroys the living tissue of the tree causing it to suffocate due to no nutrients being able to reach the upper part of the tree, and therefore causing this wonky looking Christmas tree. I haven’t yet checked Francisco’s facts, but i am choosing to accept this info untill i get time to double check them.
i looked for the beetles but couldnt find any for my collection.

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