City of Ekurhuleni

Ekurhuleni Press Releases

TREE-KILLING BEETLE IDENTIFIED IN BEDFORDVIEW, DAMAGE CONTAINED

beetle

A poisonous beetle that kills trees, known as polyphagous shot hole borer, has been identified in Bedfordview and all hands are on deck to stop it on its tracks.

DNA samples of the polyphagous beetle and the associated Fusarium euwallaceae fungus, taken from a row of trees in Bedfordview came back positive from the laboratory.

The polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB), is an invasive pest originally from Asia containing the fungal symbiont fusarium euwallaceae. It derives its name (PSHB) from the mark it leaves on the bark of a tree, which resembles shot gun bullet hole. The trees it infests often die from the poison it injects into the tree.

The name "polyphagous" means eats many food host species. This beetle targets a wide range of tree species, both exotic and indigenous.

Currently, the city's effective method of eradicating the spread of the infection is to cut down infested trees hosting the beetle‚ and to dispose them in a controlled manner‚ by first cutting them and burning.

Specialists have confirmed that there is no direct link to human health other than the loss of the trees to the environment and the benefits associated with having green environment.

Residents can also identify an infected tree by the marks on the bark resembling shot gun bullet hole and discoloration.

Furthermore, identified vulnerable trees include avocado, macadamia nut, pecan, peach, orange and grapevine trees.

In addition, many exotic tree species planted for ornamental purpose are also susceptible. These include species of maple, holly, wisteria, oak and camellia.

It is also believed from tests conducted that if a tree has been killed by the beetle carrying and producing the fungus, and the tree is chopped and removed at ground level, the beetle could still survive in the stump leftover in the ground for some unknown period, and may simply target any new tree of certain species that are planted nearby in the near future. 

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