One of Nature’s Mysteries To Solve

Hey and Happy Hundredth Column!  We have reached a kind of landmark with the Nature’s Mystery column. I can’t say I found a super-mystery for you, but it is one of the harder ones, we squirrels think.

What does this to the leaves?

Mystery #100

I’ll check in with you later!

~~~

We squirrels had to do some detective work on this mystery. Did anyone notice the damaged leaves look connected?

Spider Mite leaf damage

There is a fine webbing between the leaves, and below them the webbing looks ‘dirty’. It has caught frass, a nice nature term for poop. This is the clue that led us to figure out spider mites, a type of the aracnid with 8 legs, attacked this tree. Spider mites like to suck the juice–the sugar water–from leaves, but usually they only succeed in making the green leaves look speckled. This is a bad infestation turning most of the leaf, but that pattern is still somewhat visible as little holes in the leaves.

At first we thought the leaf had been ‘skeletonized’. But the leaf tissue isn’t fully missing, and with the webbing coating the leaves, we figured out spider mites must have been behind this damage.

Hope you agree with our conclusion! If not, feel free to send me–Hickory–a note! We squirrel may not have all the information we need to solve every mystery…and this one sure was worthy of our hundredth Nature Mystery posting! Thanks for joining us!

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