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In the Western United States, pine and spruce bark beetles are destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of forests.  The damage they unleash is increasing at an alarming rate, probably because of climate change.

Here is one of these destructive beasts, slightly bigger than the head of a pin:

Here’s what they do to the bark of trees:

And here’s how much they’ve eaten up in Colorado just East of Boulder:

A few years ago composer David Dunn figured out how to listen inside to trees infested by bark beetles, and he discovered not only the sound of one tree being munched but also a complex acoustic communication system no one ever thought beetles could possess. Listen to the sound here.

Dunn is now investigating whether certain sounds could be played back to the beetles to push back their invasion.  What music might be used to stop insects from killing?

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