Shots Fired From the Microcosmos

IMG_0247

Fire makes for a good action movie, loud and beautifully terrifying.  People struggling against fire are always heroic. The world as we know it is changed in a matter of hours. Three months after the Wildwood Canyon fire, Trixie and I scampered up the charred hillside…as though crossing a WW I battlefield or post nuclear Japan.  You could still smell the ash everywhere.

IMG_0279

And yet, already, green shoots sprout cheerful from the cinders, unperturbed by the ruckus, seemingly grateful for Nature’s chastisement: Thank you, ma’am, may I have another?

IMG_6583

You want to see nature’s real horror movie?   Consider the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer, now eating the Sweetgum trees in my neighborhood.

The what?

la-sci-beetle-trees-what-to-do-20140529-002

This guy. This monster, this Godzilla of the microcosmos, no bigger than a BB pellet, tunnels its way into the trunks of trees, sowing spores. Unlike termites, it doesn’t actually eat the wood, it sows eggs which create larvae, the larvae become a fungus. The fungus devours the tree from the inside. The tree isn’t food. The tree is a host, a womb for the evil grubs to squat in while they make more evil grubs, which apparently have no purpose on this earth but to sow more larvae.  Once inside the trunk, they are immune to pesticides. Apparently there is no stopping them. Parasite rex!

IMG_6970

Half the sweetgums in our neighborhood we lost this year. Half!   A magnificent colonnade rotting from within, branches dropping on cars, tipping like dominos.   They won’t be replaced in three months. It’ll take 30 years.

Try to make an action movie about that.