On a recent grey day I was walking past the old red oaks in Matt and Elaine’s yard, and saw how many acorns are still on the ground in January. I reflected on the fact that even in the fall, when I pick up acorns (to plant in my tree nursery, or just to admire) I often find a hole in them from worms that have hatched inside, eaten their fill, and exited.
It turns out that there is an acorn weevil, a beetle with a long snout, that drills into growing summer acorns and deposits eggs. In the fall when the acorn drops, one or more mature worms, which are weevil larvae, leave the acorn to burrow in the soil for a year or two. Then they emerge in spring having transformed into weevils, and the whole cycle has begun again.
Squirrels leave behind the worm-eaten acorns, so I assume all those I saw, of which there were many dozens, were this type. But these too will be eaten and decomposed by microbes.
I’ve been wondering how the weevils find the acorns. Part of the very being of acorn weevils must be to see, smell and be drawn to these seed forms as part of their destiny. So this frozen, acorn-covered yard reveals to me again the intricate and mysterious living world that we belong to so completely.