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