Tuesday, 9 June 2015

I'm following a tree







Once a month I have been following a tree, this year it is the turn of the Larch tree.
There are two Larches I am following one a Japanese Larch and the other a Common Larch.

You can see my monthly post here so far.

May        
April        
March      


The cones have changed quite a bit over the past few month.

Larch




Japanese Larch 


Now we are into May/June one of the biggest things to happen to this tree is it gets covered in 

Woolly Larch Aphid

It is not on all the trees at the park, and I have not recorded many on the Japanese Larch. Some are covered more than others.
It's easy to spot...a bit like when you have left a white tissue in with your darks when washing, they come out covered in bits !! 






The Strange Life of Adelgids: Adelgids have one of the most complicated life cycles you will find in the animal kingdom. All of the adelgid species have as their primary host one of the 35 or so species of spruce trees (genus Picea) and a secondary host that is another conifer, such as larch, hemlock, pine or fir. You’ll need a scorecard, but let me see if I can run through this quickly. It’s a cycle, so there’s no real beginning, but let’s start with the tiny winged adults that fly from the secondary host to the primary spruce tree host. Once they land on a spruce tree, the adelgids lay eggs and die, sheltering the eggs with their wings. The eggs hatch into males and females that lack wings, which go through four developmental “instars” before becoming adults that mate. The mated females lay a single large egg, which hatches into a wingless female. The female feeds and then induces the spruce tree to create a “gall,” which resembles a small cone. The gall is destined to become an adelgid nursery. In the spring, the female, after going through several instars, lays a clutch of eggs that hatch and move into and are enveloped by the growing gall. These larvae feed on the gall and go through several more instars. By mid-summer, the gall dries out and opens. The adelgids emerge and moult into winged adults, which migrate to the secondary host, a non-spruce conifer.
Got all that? Good. But stay tuned. There’s more.
Once the flying adelgids have settled on the secondary host, they lay eggs and die. The eggs hatch into females and grow, through several all female generations. It is these adelgids that feed with sometimes destructive result on larches and hemlocks. These are also the generations that lay eggs covered by waxy “wool.” Some of the eggs that hatch develop into the winged adults that fly back to the original spruce host to start the cycle all over again. Others develop into wingless females that stay on the secondary host (larch or hemlock). In the spring, these females grow and lay eggs and continue the generations on the secondary host. In this way, the infestation on the secondary host can grow and eventually kill the tree without ever needing the primary spruce host.
Phew! And we thought human life was complicated.

Insects have been a little less obvious but the weather was warmer to day and a few were spotted.










There are many grasses growing round the edge of the trees as well as wild flowers, Just two new new flowers this month ..





19 comments:

  1. I love the changes in the tree...............and the cones particularly.

    Insects are few and far between here. Probably due to the awful weather we keep experiencing.

    I put a pile of logs in the woodland area today, as part of my going wild :)

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    1. Thanks Cheryl, even though I watch over everything at the park, I might have missed this change in the cones if I had not been taking notes for this project.
      Things will be moving into your logs soon, doesn't take long.
      Amanda xx

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  2. I've always liked meadow buttercups,such a lovely sunny yellow.

    It's very interesting to follow your tree, and to see the cones too.

    Happy Hunting and stay out of the strong winds too ! It's meant to be June and summer isn't it?

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thanks Jan, the fields are full of buttercups at the moment and they look lovely...I do like windy days, but even I'm getting a bit fed up with them...
      Amanda xx

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  3. I had no idea about the Adelgids ... how utterly fascinating!

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    1. Thanks Annie, I read all about them last year, that's one of the reasons for choosing this tree..what amazing little aphid...
      Amanda xx

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  4. Yes I got all that Amanda. (I think)
    Lovely images though, another great post.

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  5. Great post Amanda with lovely photos. Really interesting to read all about the Adelgids. Its fascinating to read the progress of the trees throughout the year :)

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  6. The life cycle of the adelgids seems complicated, but amazing. Great photos of the insects.

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  7. I am enjoying seeing the progress of your larch and all the interesting things that are going on in and around it - never too old to learn something new!

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  8. excellent project, you're really getting up close and personal with each tree and thankfully sharing with us!
    the Larch's cone change is quite unusual.

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  9. You've once again provided a spellbinding post. Your tree is lovely. So are the bug photos! Thanks for sharing.

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  10. I love your tree posts! Great to see how the cones are forming, they are fascinating! xx

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  11. Love the critter photos! Thanks for all the info about the adelgids--I didn't know much about them until reading your post. The cones on your Larch trees are beautiful.

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  12. Great post, thank you. I love the time line of the larch cones - really makes you see the development. And thanks for the insights into Adelgids nursery.

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  13. A big thank you to you all for the Kind comments on my tree following post, been out enjoying the sun so not had time to say thanks to......Ian, Roy, Ragged Robin, Linda P, Elaine, Autumn M, Anna, Amy at love my home, Plant Postings and Fleiximgarten.
    Amanda xx

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  14. Super shots as always- interesting to see how the larch changes xx

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    1. Thanks CT, you get to see the small changes doing this which I might have missed...like the cones changing...
      Amanda xx

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