Gardens are under attack by an enemy that we can barely see. Arm yourselves with this valuable information and be ready to go to war!
Over 200 tree species are under attack by a tiny, nasty little tree killing borer beetle with a mouthful for a name; polyphagus shot-hole borer beetle, (or PSHB). The beetle, which is only the size of a sesame seed, creates tunnels deep into the tree where it reproduces and infect the tree with a fungus which in turn becomes the beetles’ food source as it eats the fungus. This fungus grows from the tunnels into the tree, harming it and can kill full grown untreated trees within a few seasons. The trees it infects include both indigenous and exotic species including some fruit trees such as avocados.
Since the shot-hole borer is so small and often not seen, it is easier to look for signs of infestation. The symptoms vary from one tree species to the next:
To view images of infested trees: PSHB.co.za/pshb-tree-identification/
To view the beetles: PSHB.co.za/pshb-beetle-identification
The good news is that not every tree will be suitable as a host for the beetle. Strong, healthy trees are less likely to be attacked and if infested, will withstand an attack better. You can boost the health of your trees by:
A fungicide has been developed that will eradicate the fungus, save the life of the tree and starve the beetle of food, often killing it too – enquire at your local GCA Garden Centre. (A surfactant, which helps insecticides penetrate the tree bark and reach the beetles in their tunnels will hopefully be registered in South Africa soon. To keep abreast of these developments, check for up-dates on the various PSHB websites).
Just one heavily infested tree may contain over 100,000 beetles, therefore we need to:
For more gardening tips and information, visit www.lifeisagarden.co.za or join the conversation on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lifeisagardensa.