Why are those trees wearing placemats?

Japanese pine trees wrapped in winter mats at Koshikawa Korakuen garden in Tokyo

Ever wonder why they wrap Japanese pine trees in those funny little mats in winter?Arboreal stomach warmer? The tree version of black tie for the holidays? Guess again. They’re actually old-fashioned, super-eco pest control!

It’s diabolically simple. The mats are girded around the trees as winter approaches, wrapped tightly at the bottom and loosely at the top. Insects crawl down from the branches and burrow into the temptingly warm straw mats, congratulating themselves on finding the insect equivalent of the Bahamas. They never suspect that before it’s warm enough to return to wreaking havoc, gardeners will swoop in and toss their cozy little roach motel into the fire, with them inside!

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Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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