Posted by: Ross Gardner | September 11, 2014

The big world of a single tree

And not even a particularly large tree at that.  The Silver Birch in my garden, in fact; 12 metres high – give or take – and probably about 14 years old.  I am well aware of why we chose this particular species.  Aside from the fact that these are beautiful and elegant trees as they begin to mature, they are also one of the most ecologically prolific of native British trees, a fact I found myself exploring again the other day.

The tree is an aphid hotspot, with greenfly aplenty and often a focal point for foraging blue tit and house sparrow in the summer.  As is so often abundantly clear within the life of our woods, so very much of its diversity is concealed among the foliage of its component trees, a fact which holds true even with a single and still relatively diminutive plant.  One or two creatures have had me busy with my camera.

Birch Shieldbug (Elasmostethus interstinctus)

Birch shield bug nymphs - late instar (resize)Birch shield bug 5 (resize)
Nymphs crowded on catkin and the adult resting on a shrub beneath the tree


Leaf-mine plus company

Many trees are susceptible to the leaf-mining larvae of moths, flies and wasps and the signs of feeding that they leave behind.  Birches are no exception.

Scolioneura betuleti mine (pos) plus Kleidocerys resedae (resize)

A leaf-mine possibly belonging to the wasp Scolioneura betuleti.  The nearby bug is Kleidocerys resedae, an insect closely associated with birch trees.


Pictures copyright 2014 Ross Gardner


  1. Me and Abbie discovered a rather handsome caterpillar on ground beneath our silver birch this week! Identified it as a Buff Moth caterpillar, beautiful colours and big but the moth seems so muted in comparison. Would it have come from the birch?

    • If you mean ‘Buff-tip’, then yes, it could well have done. They feed on a number of deciduous trees and birches are one of their favourites.

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