Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dead or dying

Everywhere you look, cedar trees in Bastrop county are dying. Just about every one on my property has turned to brown since last summer. What’s up with that?

Daniel Lewis of the Texas Forest Service came to have a look and concluded the culprit is Chrysobothris texana, a Buprestid beetle.The critter is a native, not an invasive, species that won’t attack healthy tress. But the years of drought seem to have stressed the trees and made them vulnerable to infestation by this pest. This bug is not to be confused with the Cedar bark beetle which is more commonly seen in dry years.

Supplemental watering would reduce stress on the trees . . . if it’s not already too late. But what’s the trade-off in depletion to the aquifers? If we are on our way to becoming a desert, what’s the point of fighting the inevitable?

It is sad to see these drastic changes to our Central Texas landscape. Cedars have been unfairly maligned and there are plenty of cedar-haters out there. If you are among them, please have a look at Elizabeth McGreevy’s research that debunks the myths about cedars.

Cedars RIP.

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