Red Bay Tree and the Ambrosia beetle

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Larry Tucei
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Red Bay Tree and the Ambrosia beetle

Post by Larry Tucei » Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:25 pm

ENTS, I just found about an insect infestation the Ambrosia Beetle. PASCAGOULA — An Asian beetle smaller than a grain of rice has begun eating its way through Mississippi’s coastal forests and is likely headed for Alabama.

The ambrosia beetle targets the ubiquitous red bay and close relatives in the laurel family, such as sassafras. Scientists say it has the potential to wipe out some of the most common trees in the swamps and wetlands along the Gulf coast. By some estimates, hundreds of trees have already died along the Pascagoula River.

The beetles bore pinhead-sized holes into the trees, then munch on the soft wood just under the bark. That is not what kills the trees. The beetles carry a fungus that infects the trees and prevents water movement from the roots into the crown, according to scientists. Starved of water, the trees die, their leaves wilting and turning brown, giving the disease its common name — laurel wilt.

“Red bay is a major component of the forest understory in the bay swamp habitat,” said Will Underwood, a wildlife biologist with the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. “They produce a fairly large berry that is used by birds, squirrels, bears, all kinds of wildlife. Their absence will be a big deal in the forests around here.”

As he spoke, Underwood peeled the bark away from an infected tree, exposing dozens of tiny bore holes in the trunk. Beneath the bark, the wood carried the telltale black stain caused by the fungus. Dozens of beetles floated at the bottom of a sentinel trap hanging from the tree. Every red bay in the vicinity was dead.

Underwood said he has seen a few trees around Grand Bay that appear to show early signs of infestation, which would mark the first appearance of the disease in Alabama.

Similar fungal diseases carried by other kinds of beetles were responsible for virtually wiping out chestnut trees and the American elm. Decades later, efforts are under way to restore both species, and scientists said it might be possible for the red bay to rebound at some point in the distant future.

There is no known cure or antidote for the fungus, which is native to Japan, India and Taiwan.

Scientists believe the laurel wilt beetles arrived in the U.S. on wooden shipping pallets or containers arriving at coastal ports.

It is possible the Mississippi infestation began with an infected shipment arriving at the port of Pascagoula. Scientists were surprised when the disease was discovered at several locations in Jackson County, as there hadn’t been any sign of it along Florida’s Panhandle or in Alabama.



Read more: http://www.sunherald.com/2010/04/12/209 ... z0l0R27cnv
Great, the trees have enough problems already! Larry

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Zachary S
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Re: Red Bay Tree and the Ambrosia beetle

Post by Zachary S » Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:56 pm

Larry,

UGH. I can't keep up with all the diseases and exotic creatures running around in eastern woodlands! I wonder if we have any species left that aren't under some kind of threat from pests...

~Zac

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James Parton
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Re: Red Bay Tree and the Ambrosia beetle

Post by James Parton » Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:41 pm

Larry,

I remember Red Bay from Congaree. It's a beautiful evergreen tree. It would be sad to see it gone. I worry about Sassafras too. I wonder if it has the same damaging effect on it. Does it have the ability to cause possible extinction of the tree. That is all we need. To lose another forest tree.

JP
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Will Blozan
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Re: Red Bay Tree and the Ambrosia beetle

Post by Will Blozan » Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:50 pm

ENTS,

I was just on Edisto Island last week an I'd estimate 60% of the Persea were dead and all of the sassafras were dead. Nasty disease.

Will

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James Parton
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Re: Red Bay Tree and the Ambrosia beetle

Post by James Parton » Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:32 pm

Will,

Is the beetle a threat to Sassafras here in the NC mountains?

James.
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Marcboston
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Re: Red Bay Tree and the Ambrosia beetle

Post by Marcboston » Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:46 pm

Any idea how far the insect could range?

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Red Bay Tree and the Ambrosia beetle

Post by Larry Tucei » Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:12 am

Marc, Not sure I need to do more research, hopefully not to far. Larry

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Will Blozan
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Re: Red Bay Tree and the Ambrosia beetle

Post by Will Blozan » Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:22 pm

I am not sure if the beetle- and more importantly the deadly fungus it carries- will survive up here in colder WNC. If so, it will likely wipe out our sassafras. And the spicebush.

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James Parton
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Re: Red Bay Tree and the Ambrosia beetle

Post by James Parton » Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:52 pm

Will,

I hope for the cold. Global warming could contribute to another catastrophy.

James
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edfrank
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Re: Red Bay Tree and the Ambrosia beetle

Post by edfrank » Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:11 pm

Redbay Ambrosia Beetle

Here is the Pest Alert from the Floirida Dept. of Agriculture about the beetle:
The Redbay Ambrosia Beetle, Xyleborus glabratus Eichhoff (Scolytinae: Curculionidae)
http://www.doacs.state.fl.us/pi/enpp/en ... ratus.html
x_1a.jpg
x_1a.jpg (18.28 KiB) Viewed 1521 times
x_1b.jpg
x_1b.jpg (18.4 KiB) Viewed 1521 times
Fig 1. Xyleborus glabratus female. A) lateral view, B) dorsal view.
x_2.jpg
x_2.jpg (32.89 KiB) Viewed 1521 times
Fig 2. String of compacted ambrosia
beetle sawdust on redbay.
ECOLOGICAL AND ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE: Given the current pattern of redbay mortality and the rapid range expansion of X. glabratus, this non-native ambrosia beetle and its associated fungus have the potential to seriously affect Lauraceous hosts in the southeastern US. At the site of the initial X. glabratus detection in Florida, redbay mortality has increased from 10% to more than 90% in a period of only fifteen months (Fraedrich et al. 2008). Areas near Hilton Head, South Carolina have experienced nearly complete mortality of the local redbay population. Redbay is important to wildlife as its fruit, seed and/or foliage are eaten by several species of songbirds, wild turkeys, quail, deer, and black bear (Brendemuehl 1990). Larvae of the Palamedes swallowtail (Papilio palamedes (Drury)) feed primarily on species of Persea, thus this butterfly species is likely to be negatively impacted by X. glabratus.
Other Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xyleborus_glabratus

http://www.invasive.org/species/subject.cfm?sub=10998

,
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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