Article Highlights UCI PSHB Research

  • Apr 07, 2016

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times provided a compelling portrait of the damage the polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) has caused on the University of California-Irvine (UCI) campus. Hundreds of native willows, goldenrain, cottonwood and coral trees have perished as a result of the campus PSHB infestation. Recent surveys indicate 2,000 trees on the campus are infested and will most likely have to be cut down.

While the damage is disheartening, the concentrated devastation on the UCI campus provides near-ideal conditions for controlled studies that could be critical to finding a means of stopping the spread of PSHB, the Kuroshio shot hole borer (KSHB) and Fusarium Dieback (FD). The article highlights on-campus research being conducted by Dr. Akif Eskalen. Eskalen is currently testing chemical and biological treatments on 130 affected trees. The trees have been divided into four groups of 10, with one control group and the other three groups receiving varied treatments.

Eskalen’s team is painstakingly counting and marking the holes the beetles leave behind to determine the effectiveness of the treatment over time. The researchers have also developed a means of determining which holes are in use, providing critical data that helps them understand the biology of the beetle. Traps designed by UC Riverside entomologist Dr. Richard Stouthamer are also being utilized by Eskalen’s team. 

According to Eskalen, pesticides are not the answer — natural predators are. In an effort to identify these predators, the Commission funded Eskalen’s earlier research trips to Vietnam and Taiwan where the beetle population does not run as rampant as it does in the U.S. 

The California Avocado Commission continues to make SHB research a priority, working to understand the biology of the pest while seeking natural predators, fungicides and insecticides that will impede its progress into California avocado territories and beyond. To read the complete article, click here

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