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Pine Die-back in Crete, Greece

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Last Saturday (16/04/2016) amateur botanist Steve Lenton and I visited the heavily wooded area around Kato Symi (Crete, Greece). We were immediately alarmed by the state of the pine trees (Pinus brutia) in the area and I decided to investigate the cause or causes.











The first suspect was the Pine Processionary  Moth, Thaumatopoea pityocampa due to the high number of nests which were visible. These cause massive defoliation of pine trees.











Closer examination of the trunks showed white, fluffy extrusions which looked similar to Pine Beetle pitch tubes.















The true culprit however was nearby in prodigious numbers: The Giant Pine Scale, Marchalina hellenica.














These produce the white fluff that is packed full of nourishing honeydew.










 This honeydew is an important food source for the Honey Bee, Apis melifera, from which seems to “originate all the pine honey in Greece” [Portrait of an Insect: Marchalina hellenica http://www.friederikeerlinghagen.de/vita_2.php]. There were a lot of bee hiv…