Or property is lined with Japanese cypress trees (Chamaecyparis obtusa). These were planted in 1967 by the previous owners. In the past few years, more and more of these trees have started dying, getting sick and we’ve slowly removed them to make room for other trees. The summer of 2018 was very, very dry and hot, so the rate at which these trees are dying has accelerated dramatically. We’ve also discovered two reasons for these dead trees to be so popular with small songbirds, woodpeckers and squirrels. On the one hand we have woodworm larvae, probably from the Ernobius mollis variety. Secondly, we found the smaller larvae of the Cypress bark beetle, living underneath the bark of our dying cypress trees.
The Japanese cypress tree is not a native tree in western Europe, as the name implies it originates in Japan. Although they are useful in providing hiding places for birds, deer and other animals, it’s obvious that this tree doesn’t belong. Although birds will dig out the worms from under the bark, they rarely nest in cypress trees, even though these seem like great cover (we did find an old nest in one of the trees). Birds seem to prefer native trees to nest in. Insects also do not usually hang around these trees for long.
For humans, these dying trees are actually a great opportunity. The trees have been vertically drying for over a season so if we cut them down now it will not take more than six months before we can use them as firewood. If we don’t, the trees will eventually rot and fall down. The birds wouldn’t mind, the neighbors would.