Insecticides Defend Florida Avocado Trees from Invasive Species

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The redbay ambrosia beetle is an invasive species that vectors a fungus, Raffaelea lauricola, that causes laurel wilt, a lethal disease of several plant species within the Lauraceae, including avocado… The spread of the fungus has affected large areas of native Lauraceae trees in the southeastern United States and is now threatening the avocado industry in south Florida.

“In February 2012, the first avocado tree in a commercial grove located in the northeastern quadrant of the avocado growing area was diagnosed with R. lauricola. As of July 2013, 90 trees have been diagnosed R. lauricola positive, and >1,900 symptomatic trees have been removed as part of a suppression and sanitation strategy. …Because of the lack of alternative pest management strategies (e.g. biological control, repellants, etc.), private landowners and avocado producers rely on applications of chemical insecticides to complement sanitation practices and protect trees in groves affected by this beetle-disease complex.

The current strategy is based in early detection and removal of diseased trees to eliminate beetle breeding sites and fungal inoculum sources. The diseased trees are uprooted, the stump and roots burned, the trunk and limbs are chipped, and the chips and adjacent trees are sprayed with insecticides.”

Authors: Carrillo, D., et al.
Affiliation: Tropical Research and Education Center, University of Florida.
Title: Potential of Contact Insecticides to Control Xyleborus glabratus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), a Vector of Laurel Wilt Disease in Avocados
Source: Journal of Economic Entomology. 2013. December.

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