FAS­CI­NAT­ING

Saturday Star - - METRO -

THE shot hole borer may be a pest, but it’s still fas­ci­nat­ing, says Wits Univer­sity en­to­mol­o­gist Mar­cus Byrne.

“They are from a group of in­sects called am­brosia bee­tles. Th­ese bee­tles carry species of fun­gus on their bod­ies, which they cul­ti­vate in­side the trees they at­tack. The bee­tles ac­tu­ally eat the fun­gus, not the tree. It is the fun­gus which does most dam­age to the host tree.

“The bee­tle is just the gar­dener, mak­ing a suit­able place for the fun­gus to live. Then the bee­tle cul­ti­vates the fun­gus to eat, for it­self and for its lar­vae. This type of re­la­tion­ship is called sym­bio­sis, where two dif­fer­ent or­gan­isms de­pend on each other for a liveli­hood.” | Sheree Bega

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