Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

The role of Euwallacea nr. fornicatus (Coleoptera: Scolytinae) in the wilt syndrome of avocado trees in Israel.

Abstract

The polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB), Euwallacea nr. fornicatus (Coleoptera; Scolytinae) has become a serious threat to the avocado industry and several shade tree species in Israel. Branch wilting and tree mortality is the outcome of PSHB galleries. Understanding the relationship between avocado trees and the PSHB is required for considering management strategies. In Israel, 52 tree species from 26 botanical families were attacked by the PSHB, but only 12 species were suitable for beetle reproduction. All examined avocado cultivars were attacked, but 'Hass' most severely. Large and medium diameter avocado branches were more resistant to PSHB, compared to thin branches. Effectively, gallery density increased as branch diameter decreased. Concomitantly, in large and medium diameter branches, extensive sugar exudation occurred and beetle attack rarely progressed to the formation of natal galleries, whereas minimal sugar exudation was observed in thin branches. This was more evident in those that were weakened by repeated attacks followed by successful beetle colonization. PSHB prefers and successfully colonized branches that had been previously attacked by its conspecifics, and reproduction was much higher in these branches, as opposed to initial attacks. Lesion frequencies increased from late spring (April) until late summer (September). Avocado branches at the early stages of beetle colonization may be identified by sugar exudation at the base of the thin branches. The main approach for reducing damage caused by the PSHB is sanitation, achieved by the removal of colonized branches and intact infested pruned slash.