Black and Red Worms Sucking on Squaw Tea Trees

Earlier this week we heard from a reader writing from the Mojave Desert in California. She has some squaw tea trees, which are also known as Mormon tea trees, on her land. They are inhabited by black and red worms, which “suck these trees to the point of looking like they have been in a fire”. She would like some advice on the matter.

She mentioned she had a photo, but she didn’t send one in for us to examine. We aren’t totally sure what she means by describing the worms as “sucking the trees”, because this makes us think of leeches right away. We also want clarification about the trees looking like they have been in a fire. Is all the bark gone? Is the tree black and charred? We will still try to supply our reader with some advice without these details.

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Mormon tea trees are also known as green ephedra and Ephedra viridis. These shrubs are scattered all over the Western United States at elevations higher than 900 meters.

Unfortunately, we don’t know anything about the appearance of these worms besides them being “black and red”. There are many species of invertebrates that reside in the desert, and a lot of them are black or red, and could be considered worm-like. For example, both centipedes and millipedes are known to live in the desert, but neither has been known to “suck” on trees. Beetles are often known to eat trees and cause serious damage, but they aren’t frequently mistaken for worms.

We aren’t sure what these black and red worms are, and so we don’t know what help to offer our reader. The issue could lie with the worms, or with the soil, or with weather patterns, or with something we haven’t even considered.

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Unfortunately, we don’t have better advice for our reader. If she is still struggling with these worms, we invite her to send in the photo she has!

 

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Black and Red Worms Sucking on Squaw Tea Trees
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Black and Red Worms Sucking on Squaw Tea Trees
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Earlier this week we heard from a reader writing from the Mojave Desert in California. She has some squaw tea trees, which are also known as Mormon tea trees, on her land. They are inhabited by black and red worms, which “suck these trees to the point of looking like they have been in a fire”. She would like some advice on the matter.
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