Filigree foliage

It just depends on how you look at it – filigree or carnage; design or decimation; wildlife or pest. Although the alder leaf beetles (Agelastica alni) ravage their food source, the trees seem to recover well and I rather like these blue-black metallic insects. They glow like gems in early Autumn sunshine when the new adults feed communally and when the skeletonizing outcome of their appetites is most evident

alder leaf beetles

Alder leaf beetle was considered extinct in Britain with almost no records of it between 1946 and 2003. In 2004 larvae and adults were found in Manchester…possible they arrived with plant imports. The beetle is now widespread in northern England…”

Agelastica alni

Artistic humans have emulated this filigree work on foliage ….

The art of creating leaf skeletons has been around for centuries, as far back as the Ming Dynasty period in China. The book “The Phantom Bouquet: A Popular Treatise on the Art of Skeletonizing Leaves,” published in 1863, details several methods used to produce skeleton leaves.

Tree Hugger
filigreed foliage ~ the art of nature

The above is a wonderful treatise and well worth a read or you can go straight to this method of skeletonizing foliage

A suitable topic for Wildlife Wednesday

14 thoughts on “Filigree foliage

  1. I like filigree when it is created naturally (I know, beetles are part of nature too) through decay, and as long as a plant can withstand a pest attack. But when they totally strip a plant which then struggles to survive I am not so keen. My daughter has had rose bushes completely destroyed by what we think is the rose sawfly and I have found it in my garden this week, fortunately on a mature rose which will hopefully survive.

    1. I know what you mean Jude but these never seem to destroy the trees – the alders come back each year just as vibrant (and so do the beetles!)
      p.s. capsid bugs have been the most destructive infestation I’ve encountered – in London they destroyed fuchsia buds and young leaves but then the plants put on later blooms when the bugs had left to hibernate?!

  2. Thank you … especially for introducing me to the noun, “leaf skeletons” and to Googles’ free to read edition.

  3. The frame of my glasses has the skeletons of olive leaves set into it. Ultimately better if the beetles get fed while skeletonising, than we we do it because we can.

    1. Interesting way to see the world Diana through those glasses!
      I guess there are all sorts of leaves for everyone but these beetles have first go on the alders and leave little else to skeletonize

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