Some insects that damage forest plants are aphids, which live on stems and leaves and feed on the plant's sap. They are often found in association with ants, which feed on a special liquid that the aphids secrete. Here they can be seen clustered on a new tree shoot, with an ant at the lower right. Photo by Maya Walters.
of coniferous trees are one of the most important food sources. Rodents, such as red squirrels, depend heavily on these seeds. In the
summer when food is abundant, squirrels eat a variety of things including bark, flowers, berries, insects, and occasionally meat. In the fall
they can be seen collecting mushrooms, which they leave to dry on the branches of trees, and then store for the winter. But the main type
of food collected by squirrels for the winter are seeds. They make caches of seed cones in holes or hollow trees, which they can return
to throughout the winter. These caches are particularly important because red squirrels don't hibernate. Of course, they occasionally
forget to return to a cache, and the seeds are left to sprout.
An animal which feeds heavily on tree bark is the porcupine. In the summer, porcupines prefer to eat fresh leaves and grasses. But these are unavailable in the winter, so porcupines instead gnaw large patches of bark away from the trunks and branches of conifers. These areas can be distinguished from patches of insect damage because marks are left by the porcupine's teeth.
Some insects do damage trees, but unless the forest has been unnaturally disturbed, there is usually a predator ready to catch the pests. Sometimes the predator can be a very unassuming animal. For example, shrews, which have a similar appearance to mice, voraciously consume the cocoons of sawflies. These insects resemble caterpillars when they first hatch, and feed on many species of trees. Insects are also an important food source to the many songbirds which migrate to temperate forests each summer.
[broadleaf forests] [coniferous forests] [temperate rain forests]
[seeds] [mammals] [bark] [seasons] [insects] [pests] [birds]
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