- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Wood Packaging
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Detection and Inspection
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Megaplatypus mutatus (Chapius, 1865)
Other Scientific Names
- Platypus mutatus Chapuis, 1865
- Platypus plicatus Brèthes
- Platypus sulcatus Chapuis
International Common Names
- English: ambrosia beetles
- Spanish: barreno de los forestales y frutales; taladrillo grande de los forestales
- PLTPMU (Platypus mutatus)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
M. mutatus is native to South America and in 2000 it was reported from Italy where it was damaging poplars and several fruit tree species. Consequently OEPP/EPPO (2009) included it on their A2 list of pests recommended for regulation as quarantine pests/A2 action list in March 2007. Countries in the EPPO region considered to be at risk are recommended to regulate M. mutatus as a quarantine pest (OEPP/EPPO, 2009). Alfaro et al. (2007) state that due to its continuing damage to hybrid poplar plantations in Argentina, its wide distribution in South America and its recent introduction into Italy (Tremblay et al., 2000), concerns have been raised about its potential as a globally invasive pest of Populus species. Certainly countries of the Mediterranean temperate belt (Spain, France, Greece, Turkey, etc), where poplar plantations and fruit crops are widely spread, are at risk (Alfaro et al., 2007).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Coleoptera
- Family: Platypodidae
- Genus: Megaplatypus
- Species: Megaplatypus mutatus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Megaplatypus mutatus is often referred to as Platypus sulcatus or Platypus mutatus in the literature (Alfaro et al., 2007). The first revision of the genera of Platypodidae was provided by Wood (1993), who designated nine new genera and Platypus mutatus was assigned the genus Megaplatypus. Bright and Skidmore (2002) adopted this generic transfer in their world catalogue of Scolytidae and Platypodidae, second supplement.
DescriptionTop of page
Toscani (1990) described the eggs as elliptical, whitish and translucent. They are 1 mm long and 0.6 mm wide.
First instar larvae are bright white and elliptical. Fifth instars are cylindrical. Mature larvae measure approximately 7.2 mm long and become yellowish (Santoro, 1965).
Pupae are 8 to 9 mm long and whitish (Santoro, 1965).
The adults are cylindrical with sulcate elytral striae. The head is as long as the pronotum. The male is dark-brown above and clearer below, measuring approximately 7.5 mm long. The female is brown above and reddish-yellow below, measuring approximately 8-9 mm long. The tarsi and antennae are reddish. The male elytrae have truncate tips, with characteristic spiniform processes on the declivity. The female elytrae have round tips, without processes. The anterior tibiae of both males and females are rasp-like, which assist in the movement of the adults through the galleries (OEPP/EPPO, 2009).
Also refer to Allegro and Griffo (2008) for adult and larval morphology, and development. Liguori et al. (2007) describe a multi-chamber trap that can be used to collect adults for behavioural studies. Traps used to capture adults of M. mutatus previously have resulted in injury because adults are trapped in the same chamber and are antagonistic, resulting in injured adults incapable of reproduction. The trap developed by Liguori et al. traps the adults in separate chambers, ensuring isolation until collection.
DistributionTop of page
M. mutatus is native to tropical and subtropical areas of South America, but has extended its range to temperate regions, as far south as Neuquén in Argentinean Patagonia (Alfaro et al., 2007). According to Alfaro et al. (2007), actions have been taken to prevent its introduction into Canada. The CABI/EPPO (2006) map states that there are old NHM specimens from Colombia (pre-1847) and Costa Rica (1893).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
M. mutatus is native to South America and was first recorded in the Caserta province of Italy in 2000 (Tremblay et al., 2000) and is thought to have been introduced with a single consignment of roundwood of poplar with bark imported from Argentina (OEPP/EPPO, 2009). It was found in five communities in 2000 and is now present in 14 communities; however, still confined to the Caserta province (Allegro and Griffo, 2008). In 2003 in Campania, monitoring of the pest was established and by 2007 spread of the infestation was confirmed. From 2000 to 2007, the area of distribution of M. mutatus increased from 130 km2 to 587 km2, respectively (Allegro and Griffo, 2008).
IntroductionsTop of page
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Pathways for introduction include wood and wood packaging. It is suggested that M. mutatus was introduced into Italy in untreated wood packaging produced from infested wood in its native range (Alfaro et al., 2007). It is particularly likely to be carried on recently felled wood, but debarking of wood does not eliminate the possibility of harbouring the beetle. This pest could also be carried on plants for planting trees (provided they were large enough - more than 15 cm), round wood of host plants of more than 15 cm in diameter, and sawn wood (OEPP/EPPO, 2009). It is recommended that plants used for planting should come from pest-free areas or production places that are pest-free with a buffer zone of at least 200 m. This is the same for round wood or sawn wood, or it should be fumigated, heat treated, kiln dried or impregnated with chemicals (OEPP/EPPO, 2009). Wood packaging should comply with ISPM no. 15 (ISPM, 2003).
HabitatTop of page
This pest is polyphagous, attacking a wide range of woody species. Ambrosia beetles usually attack mostly felled or weakened trees; however, M. mutatus only attacks living standing trees (Alfaro et al., 2007).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Populus spp. are regarded as the main hosts in both South America, where M. mutatus is native but poplars are not, and Italy, where M. mutatus is not native, but poplars are (OEPP/EPPO, 2009). It is a serious pest in commercial plantations of a number of broadleaf tree species, but particularly damaging to Populus deltoides in Argentina (Alfaro et al., 2007; and references therein). M. mutatus has been recorded on introduced timber, fruit and ornamental trees in South America, such as Acacia, Citrus, Magnolia and Quercus (OEPP/EPPO, 2009).
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Caesalpinia echinata (Brazilwood)||Fabaceae||Unknown|
|Corylus avellana (hazel)||Betulaceae||Unknown|
|Laurus nobilis (sweet bay)||Lauraceae||Unknown|
|Liquidambar (amber tree)||Hamamelidaceae||Unknown|
|Magnolia grandiflora (Southern magnolia)||Magnoliaceae||Unknown|
|Malus domestica (apple)||Rosaceae||Unknown|
|Persea americana (avocado)||Lauraceae||Unknown|
|Populus deltoides (poplar)||Salicaceae||Main|
|Prunus cerasus (sour cherry)||Rosaceae||Unknown|
|Prunus persica (peach)||Rosaceae||Unknown|
|Pyrus communis (European pear)||Rosaceae||Unknown|
|Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)||Fabaceae||Unknown|
Growth StagesTop of page Vegetative growing stage
SymptomsTop of page
M. mutatus only attacks standing live trees and does not mass attack host trees (Alfaro et al., 2007). Attacks generally occur in late spring (September to November in the southern hemisphere), usually initiated by the males (Alfaro et al., 2007). Tree trunks over 15 cm in diameter are the preferred hosts and the main symptom of attack is the presence of 3 mm diameter holes in the early summer that exude frass and sap. Internal galleries bored by the adults are stained by mycelia of the associated symbiotic fungus (OEPP/EPPO, 2009).
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Whole plant / external feeding|
|Whole plant / frass visible|
|Whole plant / internal feeding|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
M. mutatus is univoltine in South America and Italy. It overwinters mainly as mature larvae or immature adults (Alfaro, 2003). The males start to emerge first and the females emerge a few days later. The adults can be found in the field from November to December in South America and May to June in Italy (late spring to early summer) (OEPP/EPPO, 2009).
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
No natural enemies of M. mutatus have been identified as yet (OEPP/EPPO, 2009).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)
Pathway CausesTop of page
Pathway VectorsTop of page
|Containers and packaging - wood||Yes||Yes|
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Seedlings/Micropropagated plants||adults||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches||adults; eggs; larvae; pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Wood||adults; eggs; larvae; pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
Wood PackagingTop of page
|Wood Packaging liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Timber type||Used as packing|
|Processed or treated wood||Sawn wood||Yes|
|Solid wood packing material with bark||Untreated wood packaging||Yes|
|Solid wood packing material without bark||Untreated wood packaging||Yes|
Impact SummaryTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
M. mutatus is an important pest of timber trees especially poplar and only attacks live standing trees (Allegro, 1990). Declining trees or cut wood are not attacked and if found are an indication of earlier attack (OEPP/EPPO, 2009). Trees that have been drilled and bored into by the pest, constructing internal galleries, can break in the wind. Highly stressed trees can die. Boring causes a reduction in wood volume, and the presence of larval galleries and the dark staining produced by the ambrosial mycelia growing on the tunnel walls reduces wood quality and prevents the wood from meeting the plywood industry standards (Alfaro et al., 2007; OEPP/EPPO, 2009).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Apart from damage to trees planted as windbreaks, no environmental impacts have been reported (OEPP/EPPO, 2009).
Social ImpactTop of page
OEPP/EPPO (2009) state that some poplar producers in South America have been forced to diversify to maintain their income after their high quality wood market was lost; alternatively they sell reduced quality wood. It is thought that this could also happen in Italy, due to the high quality standards required by the wood industry.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Is a habitat generalist
- Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Host damage
- Negatively impacts forestry
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
- Reduced amenity values
- Threat to/ loss of endangered species
- Negatively impacts trade/international relations
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Pest advisory notes for customs and other shipping inspectors are being prepared in Canada. In 2001, a cooperative project was launched to produce a work plan for Argentina, including recommendations for various measures to increase the understanding of the M. mutatus life cycle, its threat to other parts of the world and the potential damage it could cause in forests and agriculture (Alfaro et al., 2007).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
ReferencesTop of page
Alfaro RI, 2003. The 'grand forest borer' Platypus mutatus (=sulcatus): an important pest of poplar culture in Argentina. A plan of action. (El "taladrillo grande de los forestales", Platypus mutatus (=sulcatus): importante plaga de la populicultura Argentina. Un plan de acción.) SAGPyA Forestal, No.28:11-18.
Alfaro RI; Humble LM; Gonzalez P; Villaverde R; Allegro G, 2007. The threat of the ambrosia beetle Megaplatypus mutatus (Chapuis) (=Platypus mutatus Chapuis) to world poplar resources. Forestry (Oxford), 80(4):471-479. http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/
Allegro G, 1990. [Animal pests of poplar and willow in Argentina]. Cellulosa e Carta, 4:18-22.
Bascialli ME; Giménez RA; Etiennot AE; Toscani H, 1996. [Management of Platypus sulcatus populations over a three-year period in the Paraná Delta region by chemical control.]. Investigaciones Agrarias: Sistemas y Recursos Forestales, 5:129-140.
Bright DE; Skidmore RE, 2002. A Catalog of Scolytidae and Platypodidae (Coleoptera) Supplement 1 (1990-1994). Ottawa, Canada: National Research Council Press, 523 pp.
Carella D; Spigno P, 2002. [Platypus mutatus passes from poplar to fruit trees.]. Bollettino del Laboratorio di Entomologia Agraria, Filippo Silvestri, 58:139-141.
EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. http://www.eppo.int/DATABASES/pqr/pqr.htm
FAO, 2002. International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures. Guidelines for regulating Wood Packaging Material in International Trade, No. 15. Rome, Italy: Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 15 pp, 15 pp.
Giménez RA; Etiennot AE; Bascialli ME; Toscani H, 1995. [Efficacy of various insecticides in the control of Platypus sulcatus en the Paraná Delta.]. IX Jornadas Fitosanitarias Argentinas, Mendoza.
Giménez RA; Etiennot RE, 2003. Host range of Platypus mutatus (Chapois, 1865) (Coleoptera: Platypodidae). Entomotropica, 18(2):89-94.
Giménez RA; Moya MC; Michetti M, 2003. Control of Megaplatypus mutatus (Coleoptera, Platypodidae) in poplars; pulverization of carbaril on the bark of the trees of perimetrales rows. (Control de Megaplatypus mutatus (Coleoptera, Platypodidae) en álamos: pulverización de carbaril sobre la corteza de los árboles de filas perimetrales.) IDESIA, 21(2):97-102.
Girardi GS; Giménez RA; Braga MR, 2006. Occurrence of Platypus mutatus Chapuis (Coleoptera: Platypodidae) in a brazilwood experimental plantation in Southeastern Brazil. Neotropical Entomology, 35(6):864-867. http://www.scielo.br/ne
Gonzalez Audino P; Villaverde R; Alfaro R; Zerba E, 2005. Identification of volatile emissions from Platypus mutatus (=sulcatus) (Coleoptera: Platypodidae) and their behavioral activity. Journal of Economic Entomology, 98(5):1506-1509. HTTP://www.esa.catchword.org
Guerrero RT, 1966. [English title not available]. (Una nueva especie de hongo imperfecto asociado con el coleoptero Platypus sulcatus Chapuis.) Rev. Invest. Agropecu, 5(3):97-103.
ISPM, 2003. International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures.
Liguori PG; Zerba E; Alzogaray RA; Audino PG, 2008. 3-Pentanol: a new attractant present in volatile emissions from the ambrosia beetle, Megaplatypus mutatus. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 34(11):1446-1451. http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=104273
Santoro FH, 1962. [Basis for the control of Platypus sulcatus.]. Revista de Investigaciones Forestales, 3:17-23.
Santoro FH, 1967. [New results on the control of Platypus sulcatus]. IDIA Suplemento Forestal, 4:70-74.
Toscani HA, 1990. Manual for protection of forest plantations in the Paraná Delta area. In: 13th Session FAO/IPC Working Party on Insects and other Animal Pests, Buenos Aires, March 1990.
Tremblay E; Espinosa B; Mancini D; Caprio G, 2000. [A beetle from South America is threatening poplars.]. (Un coleottero proveniente dal Sudamerica minaccia I pioppi.) L'Informatore Agrario, 56(48):89-90.
Wood SL; Bright DE, 1992. A catalog of Scolytidae and Platypodidae (Coleoptera) part 2: taxonomic index. Great Basin Nat. Mem, 13:1-1553.
Alfaro R I, Humble L M, Gonzalez P, Villaverde R, Allegro G, 2007. The threat of the ambrosia beetle Megaplatypus mutatus (Chapuis) (=Platypus mutatus Chapuis) to world poplar resources. Forestry (Oxford). 80 (4), 471-479. http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/ DOI:10.1093/forestry/cpm029
CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI
EPPO, 2014. EPPO Global database (available online). Paris, France: EPPO. https://gd.eppo.int/
Tremblay E, Espinosa B, Mancini D, Caprio G, 2000. A Coleoptera from South America threatens poplars. (Un coleottero proveniente dal Sudamerica minaccia i pioppi.). Informatore Agrario. 56 (48), 89-90.
Wood SL, Bright DE, 1992. A catalog of Scolytidae and Platypodidae (Coleoptera) part 2: taxonomic index. In: Great Basin Nat. Mem, 13 1-1553.
ContributorsTop of page
15/12/09 Original text by:
Claire Beverley, CABI, Nosworthy Way, Wallingford, Oxon OX10 8DE, UK
Distribution MapsTop of page
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