Better Control For Ambrosia Beetles

January 2020

Female redbay ambrosia beetle, Xyleborus glabratus (about 2 mm long).

Researchers have identified a natural method to control an enemy that attacks both ornamental and fruit trees.

Ambrosia beetles damage trees in Florida and throughout the nation, including avocado in Miami-Dade County.

Scientists working at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service facility in Wooster, Ohio, have developed a technique that preys upon the creature’s own search for ethanol emitted by diseased or weakened trees. The researchers tested the effectiveness of ethanol-infused bolts cut from host trees such as red maple, dogwood and American elm.

The bolts were placed beside traps that effectively captured the pests, but did not collect large volumes of non-target beetles.

The researchers hope to expand the testing of these natural lures in the future. If they become widely available, the lures could save both homeowners and growers money, labor and time.

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(Photo courtesy of Stephen Ausmus, USDA/ARS)