Ambrosia beetles are seeking to destroy trees around the world. These beetles dig into the heart of the tree and plant fungus. Their mission can only be described as one of sheer and complete destruction. They are literally “strangling” the trees of life.
Trees that had stood tall and powerful for hundreds of years, withstanding the winds, rains, and every act of nature, are now dying within a month’s time from a little bit of fungus. It is alarming. Yet, what is more alarming is how easily they can then cross contaminate and infect other trees. Researchers have discovered that the process of removing the infected tree is not that simple either, as they have to take precautions in an effort not to infect surrounding trees. Ideally every tree within 100 yards of the infected tree should be taken down. These beetles are a serious threat to Hawaii’s water supply and a very serious concern.
As we battle the fungus in our lives, we have to consider that trees, crops, and animals are also being affected around the world. It seems that nothing and noone is immune to this now.
Beetles That Carry Fungus are Killing Trees Around the World
California Fungus Carrying Beetle Killing Trees “These beetles have a strange M.O. They don’t eat wood, like termites; instead, they drill circular tunnels toward the heart of the tree. They carry fungal spores in their mouths and sow them like seeds as they go. Then they harvest the fungus to feed their larvae. It’s a deadly partnership: The beetles attack, but the fungus also helps to kill, colonizing the wood tissue and spreading through the plant.”
Ambrosia Beetles Causing Fungus Destroying Avocado Trees “Nine lineages of Fusarium were found to be associated with ambrosia beetles, and four of those nine have been linked with the destruction of avocado trees in the Florida, California, Israel and Australia. Matthew Kasson, who recently received his doctorate in forest pathology from Penn State, said that the ambrosia beetle infestation is a global concern because the beetles can be introduced into wood pallets that are transported around the world by cargo ships.”
Hard to Kill Tree of Heaven Likely Infected by Ambrosia Beetles “Davis described hundreds, if not thousands, of dying and dead tree-of-heaven in the area, which is very unusual, because tree-of-heaven is very hard to kill. The researchers also noticed a number of Ambrosia beetles near the infected stands, leading them to theorize that the fungus, often carried through the forests by beetles, was involved in the tree deaths. The Ambrosia beetles may explain some of the long-range spread of the disease; one theory is that the beetles feed on an infected tree and then take those spores to another healthy tree, which could be miles away.”
Hawaii Tree Killing Fungus Beetles “Experts are pointing to the ambrosia beetle as the likely spreaders of ohia death, the disease currently threatening Hawaii’s water supply and endangered native bird population.”
Beetle’s Killing California Trees “Although the beetle infests trees in many parts of Southeast Asia, it does not run rampant there the way it has in Southern California. Eskalen and Stouthamer suspect it has predators there that keep it in check naturally, and they’ve traveled to Vietnam and Taiwan to search for them. Finding them would just be the first step. Before they could bring them to California, they’d have to study them there to ensure they don’t attack the state’s beneficial native insects. In the short term, the best-case scenario for UCI is to manage the pest without allowing it to spread. With some 30,000 trees remaining on campus, Demerjian is prepared for a lengthy fight.“This is going to be a pest that we’re going to have to deal with for many years,” he said.”
Cross Contamination in Nature
- Do not transport wood of affected Ohia trees to other areas.
- Clean and sanitize all tools with freshly prepared 10% solution of chlorine bleach and water or by using a 70% rubbing alcohol solution.
- Vehicles used off-road in infected forest areas should be thoroughly cleaned so as not to carry contaminated soil to healthy forests. Concerned areas include wheels threads and undercarriage of vehicles.
- Shoes, tools, and clothing used in infected forests should also be cleaned, especially before being used in healthy forests.
Fears of Fungus Spreading To Another Island “It basically plugs up the sap wood so that the tree basically is strangled to death by the fungus and that’s why we see the leaves turning brown so quickly. The fungus is plugging up the trees ability to transport water,” said Dr. Flint Hughes, an Ecosystem Ecologist with the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry.The disease spreads so quickly, officials say once the leaves start turning brown the entire tree dies within about a month. It’s not the first time experts have encountered the fungus in Hawai’i, but they’ve never seen it attack ‘ohia before. “It’s very important not to take diseased or fallen wood into other locations and really try to limit the spread of any kind of firewood or wood posts. It could be managed with sanitation,” described Keith. Officials say right now the focus is preventing the fungus from spreading to another island. They say there have been reports of some trees exhibiting symptoms of disease on Maui, but there have not been any confirmed ‘ohia deaths.”
Small Pine Beetle Injecting NJ Trees with Fungus “Rich Reenstra, the Ocean County forester, says the southern pine beetle is the size of a grain of rice. It bores into a tree’s bark to feed and breed, injecting a fungus that looks like a dark line.” That fungus actually girdles the tree and kills below the bark the tree’s ability to transport water,” Reenstra said. The beetle’s basically starve the tree, killing its leaves and causing bare branches. The trees try to fight back pushing the invaders out in a sticky ball of sap, but it doesn’t always work. Ideally, crews should be taking down not just a diseased tree, but every tree within a hundred foot radius. But, at this point, the county is not going that far.”
Quarantine Order for Boxwood Blight “The order, which appears in the June 25 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin, puts parameters in place to minimize the spread and impact of the Calonectria pseudonaviculatum fungus. This fungus causes blight in all types and ages of Buxus species. The order allows “any property, facility, premise, place or area where boxwood blight is confirmed” to be quarantined. It also restricts the movement of any material or object that may carry or spread the fungus both within the state and from other states, including a provision for inspection of material from other states and a requirement that the originating state certify that the shipper meets Pennsylvania standards before plants are allowed to enter for resale distribution.”