Surfer Uses Social Media to Help Stop Invasive Beetles

Not your everyday use of Instagram

A tree
Surfers defending trees against beetles: not the plot of this summer's blockbuster film.
Ben Elhadj Djelloul Mohamed/Unsplash

Trees can form the core ecosystem for a host of other species. That isn’t always a good thing. Certain species of insect, for instance, have a parasitic relationship to the trees where they live. The shot hole borer, described in an article from the California Native Plant Society as “the perfect pest,” falls neatly into this category.

The beetle drills into the trunks of trees, where it farms fungi for food. Unfortunately, that had an adverse effect on the trees themselves, and can lead to their deaths. It’s led a number of organizations to find ways to spot these tiny insects, which isn’t always easy, given their size.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times chronicles the efforts of one man to educate the public about these invasive species. At the center of the article is Gabe Verduzco, a plant enthusiast who surfs regularly and works for the Agriculture and Natural Resources division of the University of California Cooperative Extension. He’s also made use of both Instagram and TikTok to demonstrate the damage various bugs can do to trees — and to educate people on what to look for.

“I’m so intrigued by bugs and plants, and learning about them — educating myself — just excites me about life,” Verduzco told the Times. And if his work helps share his knowledge — and his penchant for preservation — the environmental benefits could be sizable.

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