The Polyphagous Shothole Borer was detected in South Africa for the first time last year.
Since its detection, the beetle has been attacking and inserting its deadly fungal ally in a wider array of tree species across a much wider geographical area than when it had originally been discovered. The number of tree species attacked in South Africa has also risen alarmingly. It currently stands at more than 80 tree species, 35 of which are native.
The Shothole Borer has the potential to affect fruit, nut and wood production, but also to permanently alter urban landscapes and natural forest ecosystems.
The South African government has started taking steps to manage the problem. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has set up a steering committee to guide national efforts.
The major challenge with the beetle infestation is that the insect is crossing the boundaries between agriculture, commercial forestry, natural forests, and urban trees, which means routine action plans aren’t enough to curb the problem.
During countrywide surveys conducted by FABI, it was found that several fruit trees, namely peach, olive, grapevine, guava and fig, were infested in urban areas. The only commercial crops that are affected at present, however, are pecan nut trees on farms in the Northern Cape.
According to Bizcommunity, the damage most difficult to predict and manage, is to South Africa’s native tree species such as coral trees, wild olives, yellow woods and Natal figs.
Read the full article on the Polyphagous Shothole Borer on Bizcommunity.
Featured image sourced from LACounty.gov