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MINI07    4' Mini-mysteries: berry trees are dying

EXT DAWN WIDE: CITY PARK

(camera flies from high altitude down to grass-top level toward
a large oak tree, slowly past a shingle sign saying "Marvin
Mouse Detective Agency" and to the opening door nestled into the
roots of the tree, Marvin Mouse comes through the door wearing
oversized glasses and a suit and tie, smiles)

                            MARVIN

Hello. I'm Marvin Mouse, Private Investigator. And you're here
just in time to help me solve a mystery.

(points)

(a robin, a blue jay and a bluebird flutter into frame and land
nearby)

                             ROBIN

Marvin Mouse, something terrible has happened! The berry trees
are dying! We need those berries to feed our chicks!

                            MARVIN

(to camera)

We have some of the best berry trees in the city here:
elderberries and blackberries. It would be a shame if we lost
these trees. They feed a lot of the animals in the park.

(beckons, exiting frame)

Come on. Let's investigate.

EXT DAWN WIDE: CITY PARK LOW-LANDS NEAR THE CREEK

                            MARVIN

(climbs the last few steps up the trunk, then out on the branch,
inspects the undersides of a few leaves with a tiny magnifying
glass)

(to camera)

Nothing. No insects or worms on any of the leaves. And no
damage from insects or worms chewing them either.

(sits up on hind legs, looks around, tilts head, points)

Look here. All the leaves and berries of this branch are wilted,
but the leaves and berries of this other branch...

(points up and walks)

are healthy.

(stops, looks up and all around)

That's true for other branches as well. Whatever is attacking
this tree is damaging whole branches. But I don't see any cuts
or holes in any of the branches.

(moves back toward the trunk, points)

The only damage I can see is this small hole here in the tree
bark near the tree trunk."

                             ROBIN

(flutters into frame and lands nearby)

Well, did you solve the mystery yet? Was it the aphids, like in
the rose garden?

                            MARVIN

No, aphids can pick on the roses because their drilling mouth
parts work well on roses. But their mouth parts aren't long
enough to drill through the thick bark of trees. There's only a
couple of insects who can drill a hole in the bark of a tree.

                             ROBIN

Which insects?

                            MARVIN

It's either termites or bark beetles.

                             ROBIN

I never heard of them.

                            MARVIN

That's because they don't live in the park. They were kicked out
of the park years ago because everything they ate died.

                             ROBIN

I don't see any damage from insects on this tree, except for the
wilted leaves and dried up berries. Why didn't they eat the
berries?

                            MARVIN

They don't eat berries. They chew a small hole in the bark of
the tree, then climb inside the bark to eat the wood underneath.

                             ROBIN

So, was it the termites or the bark beetles who did this damage?

                            MARVIN

(to camera)

Well, what do you think?

I agree.

(to Robin)

Termites eat deep into the wood and eat the center of the tree
trunk. But they usually prefer to eat trees that are already
dead. But in this case, the berries are wilting because the wood
this insect is chewing is the part of the tree that carries the
nectar from the leaves to the berries. Only bark beetles eat the
soft new wood just under the bark of the tree like this.

                             ROBIN

How can we stop these... these...

                            MARVIN

...bark beetles?

                             ROBIN

Yes. If they're UNDER the bark of the tree, how do we get at
them?

                            MARVIN

WE can't get at them. You and the other robins need to go into
the woods on the other side of the creek and invite the
woodpeckers to come to the park.

                             ROBIN

Wait a minute! Woodpeckers are birds!

                            MARVIN

That's right. So?

                             ROBIN

So, this park already has too many birds! We don't need more!

                            MARVIN

(exiting frame)

Well, okay. I told you how to get rid of the bark beetles. If
you don't want to get rid of them, it's up to you. I'm not the
one who eats the berries.

                             ROBIN

(follows)

Wait a minute. I'm sorry, Marvin Mouse. You're right. If we need
those woodpeckers to get rid of those beetles and get our
berries back, we'll invite them in.

EXT AFTERNOON WIDE: CITY PARK LOW-LANDS NEAR THE CREEK

(every fruit tree is filled with the "ratatatat" of woodpeckers
pecking the trunks and branches of the berry trees)

                             ROBIN

(lands on the lawn beside Marvin)

Do the woodpeckers have to make all that noise?!

                            MARVIN

Yes, of course. They pound on the bark and listen for the sound
of the bark beetles underneath. When they find the bark beetles,
they peck harder to drill a hole to get at the beetles.

(points)

Look.

(close-up of a woodpecker that had finished drilling a hole
through the bark of the berry tree and pulls out a white
caterpillar, then swallows it whole)

                             ROBIN

That's not a bark beetle! That's a caterpillar!

                            MARVIN

It's called a grub. Bark Beetles are just like butterflies. When
they have babies, their babies don't look anything like their
mothers and fathers. They look more like worms. But after the
grubs eat their fill of the tree wood, they'll  change into a
beetle.

                             ROBIN

How long will we have to put up with all this noise?!

                            MARVIN

They're almost done.

                             ROBIN

Then, we'll have to find them all a place to build their nests.

                            MARVIN

That won't be necessary.

(suddenly all the ratatatat stops, all woodpeckers take flight,
swirl into a formation, then fly off into the distance)

                             ROBIN

Where are they going?

                            MARVIN

All their food is gone. They're going back into the woods where
there's more grubs to eat.

                             ROBIN

So, the bark beetles are all gone?! That worked out pretty well
for everybody, didn't it?! Thanks, Marvin Mouse!

                            MARVIN

(to camera)

Thanks for helping me solve this mystery.

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