UPDATED: A look at using beneficial fungi against avocado pests

08/26/2013 04:41:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

foam containing beneficial fungus that fights avocado pestsCourtesy Agricultural Research ServiceA foam that contains beneficial fungi and that was originally developed to fight termites may have a place to fight two boring beetles attacking avocado trees in California and Florida.A foam containing a beneficial fungi originally developed to fight Formosan subterranean termites mite also help control two beetles that are spreading avocado diseases in California and Florida.

Alejandro Rooney, an Agricultural Research Service research geneticist based in Peoria, Ill., is leading a study of using entomopathogenic, or insect-infecting, species of Metarhizium, Isaria and Beauvaria fungi against the redbay ambrosia beetle and polyphagus shot hole borer.

Both beetles burrow into avocado trees, carrying along with them pathogenic fungi, according to a news release.

In the case of the redbay ambrosia beetle in Florida, it's laurel wilt.

The polyphagous shot hole beetle carries a Fusarium fungus that causes Fusarium dieback in California.

Spraying trees with an insecticide to kill the beetles before they infect trees isn't practical.

The researchers already have conducted bioassays that confirm the three fungi are lethal to the beetles.

The California Association of Pest Control Advisers and the California Avocado Commission will hold a seminar on the polyphagous shot hole beetle and Fusarium dieback, Sept. 26, in San Marino.

For more information or to register, visit https://capcaed.com.

They then investigated using a foam developed by fellow ARS researchers to fight subterranean termites.

After all, these pests also burrow into trees.

Avocado trees infested with polyphagous shot hole borers produce gumming and white residue around the bore holes, giving away the beetles' locations.

This would allow applicators to spray the foam directly at the infestation sites.

But such is not the case with the redbay ambrosia beetle, making them more difficult to locate.

“We’ll probably use a combination of spraying the entomopathogenic fungi on trees and on an avocado mulch, which we know the beetles are attracted to,” ARS chemist Chris Dunlap said in the release.

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