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We vill takeoff…

March 1, 2014

Weevil take-off

Weevil take-off

…is the last thing a Lufthansa airline pilot says to the control tower before heading down the runway. It also makes a great caption for the photograph to the left (click photo to enlarge). It shows a Eucalyptus Weevil (Gonipterus scutellatus), otherwise known as the Eucalyptus snout beetle or the gum-tree weevil, fleeing a wannabe nature photographer.

Eucalyptus Weevils (pictured below), as the name suggests, are beetles that live in gum trees. When young the adults are rust red in DSCN6764colour, which fades to dark brown as the insects mature. Some have a pale marking on their backs (below). They can usually be found with all six legs wrapped around a leaf stem or small branch looking as if they are hanging on for dear life. If disturbed the weevil will simply drop to the ground to avoid detection.

Both the adults and the larvae damage eucalypt forests. From August to February the adult weevils feed on mature gum leaves  and DSCN6464-003produce the scalloped edges on leaf boundaries that is so often seen.  The larvae feeding cause the most damage, resulting in complete defoliation of stems, which often die-back and cause stunted gum tree growth. This insect is considered a serious pest in eucalypt plantations.

Not all the Yellow Box saplings in the grove where these photos were taken have been attacked by weevils. Maybe the weevils are saving them for later. We-vill see.

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