LOOK FOR

Saturday Star - - METRO -

AS THE bee­tle is so tiny, it’s of­ten not seen. Rather look for signs of in­fes­ta­tion, which in­clude:

◆ Wilted or miss­ing leaves.

◆ Dead or dy­ing branches.

◆ Tiny, ran­domly spaced holes in bark, which may have stain­ing around them.

◆ Or rings of white power, known as sugar vol­ca­noes.

◆ Or gummy-like blobs ooz­ing out of the holes.

Source: Jo­han­nes­burg Ur­ban For­est Al­liance SOUTH Africa’s col­lec­tion of 82 of­fi­cially pro­claimed “cham­pion trees” are threat­ened by the highly in­va­sive polyphagous shot hole borer bee­tle.

Cham­pion trees are re­garded of ex­cep­tional im­por­tance and de­serv­ing of na­tional pro­tec­tion be­cause of their re­mark­able size, age, aes­thetic and cul­tural, his­toric, or tourism value.

“The borer poses a threat to cham­pion trees,” says Izak van der Merwe of forestry sci­en­tific ser­vices at the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries.

“It has been de­tected in the lane of Lon­don plane trees in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg planted more than a 100 years ago by the cu­rato, W Mar­riot, known as Mar­riot’s Lane. We are alert for any other signs of this pest else­where.” | Sheree Bega

WHAT TO DO

IN­FESTED and dead trees are breed­ing grounds for shot hole borer, says the Jo­han­nes­burg Ur­ban For­est Al­liance.

“Re­cent tests in­di­cate that one heav­ily in­fested tree con­tains more than 100 000 bee­tles,” said the al­liance.

Dead trees need to be re­moved and dis­posed of re­spon­si­bly. Do this by cut­ting in­fested branches into small pieces, putting them into refuse bags and seal­ing them. “Keep this in di­rect sun­light to kill the in­sect and its lar­vae.”

An­other method is burn­ing on site. You may want to con­sult a tree spe­cial­ist. FOR Clyde Hill and his wife Linda the English oak tree that tow­ers re­gally over their ex­pan­sive gar­den is more than just a tree: it’s part of their fam­ily.

“We just love it ,” said Hill, as he gazed fondly at the huge tree. “It’s such a fea­ture of the house. We have Sun­day lunch here and have made many mem­o­ries un­der this spe­cial tree.”

But the oak, like so many oth­ers in Joburg, has been at­tacked by the in­va­sive polyphagous shot hole borer.

Tree sur­geon Ju­lian Ortlepp doesn’t have much hope it can be saved.

“It’s sad be­cause they have put so much money into try­ing to save it.”

In the past year, the Hyde Park cou­ple have ploughed in over R20 000 to heal their tree.

Ortlepp has in­jected it with rounds of in­sec­ti­cide, fungi­cide and a ben­e­fi­cial bac­te­ria and re­moved its dis­eased limbs. “It’s dy­ing back even more,” he told Hill.

Hill, though, doesn’t want to hear it. There’ll be more treat­ment. “We’re go­ing to make it sur­vive.” | Sheree Bega

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