Monday, September 6, 2010

Acorn Moth Larva

Acorns are beginning to fall at Blue Jay Barrens. The rate of fall will increase over the next several days, but the crop doesn’t look to be overly large this year. 2007 and 2008 were drought years and the oaks responded by producing an abundance of acorns. Last year had adequate moisture and I think the trees are in a period of recovery from the stress of drought and excess fruit production. It’ll be a race between the deer, turkey and squirrels to see who gets the nuts this year.

It’s hard to find any edible nuts on the ground. Most have been eaten by Acorn Weevil larvae, which feed on the nut and then bore their way out to pupate in the soil. The hole left in the acorn is evidence that the weevil was there. But if the weevil is gone, why has the hole been closed?

Doesn’t look like there’s much edible material left inside. The large animals that feed on acorns are quick to take those that are edible. Most of those left on the ground are inedible, at least to most things.

Here’s why the hole is closed. This is the larva of an Acorn Moth. The Acorn Moth lays its egg near the hole left by the exiting weevil and the newly hatched moth larva enters the acorn through the hole. Once inside, the moth larva consumes what was left by the weevil.

I found this small larva feeding beneath an acorn cap. It appears to have been working to gain entry into the nut. The size was too small for me to determine if it was another Acorn Moth larva.

This acorn fell while I was standing beside the tree. This is a healthy nut that could germinate to produce a new tree. Well, not after I cut it in half.

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