University of Florida Extension entomologist Lauren Diepenbrock has discovered a pest not previously found in Florida citrus.
“Recently, we have been finding some new pest signs in citrus … What we believe we found are signs of ambrosia beetles,” says Diepenbrock. She has fungus-infected citrus tree trunk samples in her lab and is waiting for adults to emerge in order to make a positive identification.
Diepenbrock reports that infected citrus trees were found in Polk County a few weeks ago, and the most recent find was in Dade City. “It’s very possible that it’s located throughout the state, as ambrosia beetles attack a wide variety of hosts,” she says.
According to Diepenbrock, the ambrosia beetle is attracted to the scent that stressed trees emit. “So it’s not surprising it would find something like a citrus tree that’s infected with HLB already. The beetles burrow into the trees, lay their eggs, cultivate their fungus and complete their development within the tree … And these beetles might actually be the final factor in taking down what otherwise would have been a productive HLB-infected tree.”
Based on management methods used for ambrosia beetle in forestry systems and other fruit trees, Diepenbrock says the best course of action for citrus growers is to remove and destroy infested trees.
“If you need help knowing if you have infected trees, please call your local Extension agent for assistance,” she advises.
Hear more from Diepenbrock:
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