Fly­ing tree sur­geons

World of Animals - - All About Woodpeckers -

De­spite hack­ing at them, wood­peck­ers ac­tu­ally help trees to stay healthy Trees could quickly be over­come with in­sect in­fes­ta­tions with­out these bor­ing birds.

It’s much bet­ter for the tree to suf­fer mild abra­sions than to be eaten away by rav­en­ous bee­tles. Ash trees are par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble to this threat from an in­sect aptly named the emer­ald ash borer.

These Asian bee­tles have in­vaded Europe and North Amer­ica and have killed tens of mil­lions of trees out­side of their na­tive range. How­ever, wood­peck­ers can pre­vent this de­struc­tion. Up to 85 per cent of a tree’s ash borer lar­vae can be con­sumed by one wood­pecker, keep­ing the in­sect num­bers down to safe lev­els. The ef­fec­tive­ness of this method of con­trol varies, but wood­peck­ers within the bee­tle’s home range do an ex­cel­lent job of keep­ing the in­sects at bay.

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