Search Continues for Methods to Control Fungus-Farming Beetle in SoCal Trees

polyphagous shot hole borer side view

By Meredith Swett Walker A spate of tree deaths in California has arborists, park managers, and home owners alarmed. Keen-eyed tree caretakers might notice a cluster of tiny holes in the bark of affected trees—almost as if the tree had been shot with a Lilliputian shotgun. But the culprit is not a tiny tree hitman […]

Forest Pest Invasions Can—And Should—Be Studied Before They Happen

Xyleborus glabratus and Euwallacea fornicatus

By Jiri Hulcr, Ph.D. Ambrosia beetles include some of the scariest invasive bugs. These tiny relatives of bark beetles travel the globe in wooden packaging used on commercial ships. They take their food with them: Instead of eating the wooden crates, ambrosia beetles grow symbiotic fungi inside the timber just like little farmers. As a […]

Beetle Farmers 2.0: A Super-symbiont Fungus Supports a Complex Beetle Society

By Jiri Hulcr and Matt Kasson Eating wood is really tough. Many insects are pretty good at chewing wood with their mandibles, but they can’t produce the right concoction of enzymes to digest the chains of cellulose and lignin. That’s what fungi are good at, and that’s why most wood on this planet is not […]

Study Confirms Effectiveness of Cheap, Simple Traps for Citizen Science Project

By Kaine Korzekwa By asking members of the public to capture and send beetles in for research, scientists at the University of Florida are using “citizen science” to get a better idea of the distribution of invasive beetle species in the southeastern United States. “It’s actually very hard for scientists to do a large-scale project […]

Avocado Trees Threatened by Beetles, Fungus

Back in 2011, Dr. Jiri Hulcr, co-author of Xyleborini of New Guinea, a Taxonomic Monograph (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae), warned that a subset of fungus-farming ambrosia beetles from southeast Asia could be a significant threat to avocado trees. “The redbay ambrosia beetle is originally from southeast Asia, where it colonizes dead wood exclusively. But since the […]