Folks, we have a new tree pest in town, and if you think this article sounds overly dramatic, we assure you it is not. I recently sat in on a community meeting of state, county and local stakeholders to get the “scoop”. Everyone needs to care, be aware, and take action on your property as this pest is easily carried via compost, firewood, and mulch. Please help spread the word to neighbors, friends, family and your networks, like civic groups, church, etc. Below are pertinent information and links.
Deborah - Executive Director
The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB) is an invasive beetle (Vietnam origin) that attacks common native and landscape trees. The tiny beetle tunnels into host trees and spreads Fusarium Dieback (FD), a fungus that disrupts the transport of water and nutrients in the tree. This leads to branch dieback and overall decline of the host tree. This beetle has recently been discovered in the Ojai Valley.
A closely related beetle (Taiwan origin) called the Kuroshio Shot Hole Borer (KSHB) has been detected in San Diego County. KSHB looks identical to PSHB and also carries disease-causing fungi, but the species are genetically distinct.
Final word from Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, executive director, Brian Stark – “… while our local avocado growers have been aware of this threat for a while, there hasn’t been much talk about it among environmental organizations. Unlike most of the agricultural pests we experience in our area, this one targets a much wider variety of trees that include Coast Live Oak, Sycamore, Alders and other native trees that define our landscapes and habitats in the Ojai Valley.
This is a very different pest than the Asian Citrus Psyllid, which only affects citrus [and close relatives]. At present there are no large scale/government sponsored efforts or mandates to address this threat. We have a much better chance of understanding and addressing the threats presented by the PSHB, if we approach it as a larger environmental risk to native habitats and not just as an agricultural threat.