Csóka, GY., and Kovács, T. 1999. Xylophagous insects. Forest Research Institute. Erdészeti Turományos Intézet. Agroinform Kiadó, Budapest. 189 pp.
More than a half of all species ever described are either green plants or insects, which feed on them. As a result of resource partitioning among species, some insect feeds on almost every part of a dead or living plant. Xylophagous insects play a special role in this resource partitioning. Strictly speaking, xylophagous insects are defined as those, which feed in the heartwood of woody plants. In this book we use a broader definition, in which this category includes all insects feeding in trunks, stumps and branches of trees and shrubs, whether alive or dead.
Xylophagous insects are found in many insect orders (Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera and Diptera for example). In addition to their species richness, the diversity of morphologies and life histories seen in xylophagous insects is also amazingly diverse. Some species are only a few millimetres long, while this grouping also includes the giants of insect world. There is no woody plant, which is not eaten by some xylophagous insect. Some groups have evolved biochemical or acoustic communication systems used in locating host plants or mates. Some manipulate the plant's physiology to their own end. Mutualistic relationships with bacteria, fungi and protists are a common solution to the problem of digesting the cellulose and lignin in wood. Some species play a key role in stable patterns of nutrient cycling in forests, while other species experience massive population explosions and cause high levels of tree mortality, which may devastate large areas of forest.
The main aim of this book is to give an insight - even if only a fragmentary one - into the enormous diversity of form, lifecycles and ecological interactions shown by the xylophagous insects. We describe common and abundant species of economic significance, and also species rarely seen due their low abundance or cryptic lifestyle. This book thus includes both serious Europe-wide forest pests and rare protected species. Our intention is to emphasise and advance the basic view that even species acting against human intentions have a rightful place. Even the egocentric human race should appreciate their range of life histories and apparently "clever" adaptations.