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NUTS AND NUT-EATERS
WE pass through a small nut-wood on our way to school. In
the winter, when there are no leaves on the trees, we
see the grey clusters which we call "lambs-tails"
hanging on the nut-bushes, Paul says their real name is
We often look at them to see how they grow. At first
they are only like little grey buds on the branch. Then
they grow larger and hang down. By degrees they become
very loose, like tassels, and under the grey scales
come some little bags of yellow dust.
THREE KINDS OF WILD NUTS, RED-TIPPED, NUT-FLOWERS AND CATKINS ON A BRANCH.
Then in March, still before the leaves are on
 the trees, the wind shakes the tree and blows the
yellow dust about.
By this time we find small flowers, growing near the
end of the branches. You have to look well to find
them. But they are very pretty. Each flower has two
tiny red horns, and there are many flowers in one green
We know that these red flowers grow into nuts, for we
find the nuts just in that place in September. When the
wind blows the yellow dust out of the lambs-tails, some
of it falls on the red horns of the flowers, and this
makes the nut grow.
In the autumn we look out well to see when the nuts are
ripe. We want to get some before the Squirrels, and the
little birds called Nuthatches, carry them all away.
Peggy is in such a hurry that she picks them sometimes
before they are ripe. This is foolish, for then there
is only a very small watery kernel inside. The rest of
the shell is filled with white soft stuff.
Paul says this white stuff is the food which the nut
uses to make itself large and firm. When the nuts are
ripe they drop quite easily out of the brown leafy cup
in which they sit.
Sometimes when we pick the nuts we find one with a
little hole in the shell. Then we
 know that the nut is a bad one, and we shall most
likely find a maggot inside.
It is so curious! Paul tells us that this maggot is a
young beetle. It does not look like one. But many
beetles when they are young have no legs and are only
This nut-beetle is called a Weevil. When the nut is
quite young and soft, the mother weevil comes and lays
an egg in it. She is a very small beetle and has a long
snout. With her snout she makes a hole in the soft
green nutshell, and then lays a tiny egg in the hole.
By-and-by the egg hatches into a maggot. It grows fat
by feeding on the nut. So when we gather it, the nut is
half eaten, and the maggot is curled up inside.
NUT WEEVIL AND GRUB: (A) REAL SIZE OF WEEVIL
If we had not picked the nut, the maggot would have
eaten a large hole in the nutshell with its horny
mouth, and then have crept out of its maggot skin as a
little weevil with wings.
 So the yellow dust and the red flowers make nuts. Some
of these nuts we get. Some the squirrels get. Some the
nuthatch gets. Some fall to the ground and grow up into
young nut trees, and some the weevil grub gets, before
they are ripe.