University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) entomologist Lauren Diepenbrock provides an update on the long-horned beetle, the newest Florida citrus pest.
The beetle was discovered in a Hendry County grove in September. Diepenbrock reports that a grove crew worker “hit a branch and the branch fell right off.” After finding a hole in the branch, the worker contacted the grove manager, who contacted UF/IFAS. Soon, Diepenbrock says, numerous branches were found that broke off with “a little bit of pressure or really heavy winds.” More branches broke off as fruit got larger and put more pressure on the branches. UF/IFAS researchers discovered “a whole bunch” of long-horned beetle larvae in the wood that broke off, Diepenbrock says.
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry (DPI) personnel have found more long-horned beetle larvae, mostly within a 5-mile radius of the original find, Diepenbrock says. As of mid-October, all finds were within Hendry County.
Growers who suspect they have long-horned beetles in their groves can contact Diepenbrock and she’ll contact the DPI crews that are conducting surveys. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get surveys started in a grove.
Diepenbrock says because the beetle larvae is inside the wood, “there’s not a whole heck of a lot we can do” to treat it. “The best thing that you could do is to get the deadwood out of your field,” she says. Removing deadwood takes away the beetle’s “opportunity to get into a tree that is already weakened,” she adds.
Hendry County appears to be a relative hotbed of citrus pests and disease in Florida. It is one of only a few counties to have known citrus black spot disease infections and infestations of lebbeck mealybug.
This interview with Diepenbrock was featured in the latest episode of the All In For Citrus podcast, a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media. Listen to the full podcast here.
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