- Author: Houston Wilson
- Author: Jhalendra Rijal
- Author: David Haviland
Crop sanitation will be key to controlling the invasive carpophilus beetle
Growers and pest control advisers (PCAs) should be on the lookout for a new pest called carpophilus beetle (Carpophilus truncatus). This pest was recently found infesting almonds and pistachios in the San Joaquin Valley, and is recognized as one of the top two pests of almond production in Australia. Damage occurs when adults and larvae feed directly on the kernel, causing reductions in both yield and quality.
Populations of carpophilus beetle were first detected in September in almond and pistachio orchards by University of California Cooperative Extension Specialist Houston Wilson of UC Riverside's Department of Entomology. Pest identification was subsequently confirmed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Wilson is now working with Jhalendra Rijal, UC integrated pest management advisor, North San Joaquin Valley; David Haviland, UCCE farm advisor, Kern County; and other UCCE farm advisors to conduct a broader survey of orchards throughout the San Joaquin Valley to determine the extent of the outbreak.
To date, almond or pistachio orchards infested by carpophilus beetle have been confirmed in Stanislaus, Merced, Madera and Kings counties, suggesting that the establishment of this new pest is already widespread. In fact, some specimens from Merced County were from collections that were made in 2022, suggesting that the pest has been present in the San Joaquin Valley for at least a year already.
“It has likely been here for a few years based on the damage we've seen," Rijal said.
This invasive beetle overwinters in remnant nuts (i.e. mummy nuts) that are left in the tree or on the ground following the previous year's harvest. Adults move onto new crop nuts around hull-split, where they deposit their eggs directly onto the nut. The larvae that emerge feed on the developing kernels, leaving the almond kernel packed with a fine powdery mix of nutmeat and frass that is sometimes accompanied by an oval-shaped tunnel.
Carpophilus beetle has been well-established in Australia for over 10 years, where it is considered a key pest of almonds. More recently, the beetle was reported from walnuts in Argentina and Italy as well. Carpophilus truncatus is a close relative to other beetles in the genus Carpophilus, such as the driedfruit beetle (C. hemipterus) that is known primarily as a postharvest pest of figs and raisins in California.
Monitoring for carpophilus beetle is currently limited to direct inspection of hull split nuts for the presence of feeding holes and/or larvae or adult beetles. A new pheromone lure that is being developed in Australia may soon provide a better monitoring tool for growers, PCAs and researchers.
“We're lucky to have colleagues abroad that have already been hammering away at this pest for almost a decade,” said Haviland. “Hopefully we can learn from their experiences and quickly get this new beetle under control.”
The ability to use insecticides to control carpophilus beetle remains unclear. The majority of the beetle's life cycle is spent protected inside the nut, with relatively short windows of opportunity available to attack the adults while they are exposed. The location of the beetles within the nut throughout most of their life cycle also allows them to avoid meaningful levels of biological control.
In the absence of clear chemical or biological control strategies, the most important tool for managing this beetle is crop sanitation.
“Given that this pest overwinters on remnant nuts, similar to navel orangeworm, crop sanitation will be fundamental to controlling it,” Wilson said. “If you needed another reason to clean up and destroy mummy nuts – this is it.”
In Australia, sanitation is currently the primary method for managing this pest. And here in California, new research and extension activities focused on carpophilus beetle are currently in the works.
“It's important that we get on top of this immediately,” said Wilson. “We're already starting to put together a game plan for research and extension in 2024 and beyond.”
If you suspect that you have this beetle in your orchard, please contact your local UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor (https://ucanr.edu/About/Locations/), County Agricultural Commissioner (https://cacasa.org/county/) and/or the CDFA Pest Hotline (https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/reportapest/) at 1-800-491-1899.
- Author: Mackenzie Patton
Eucalypt trees have become abundant in the California landscape, but so have the many invasive eucalypt pests that have arrived in California in the last couple decades.
In the fall of 2022, yet another invasive pest was added to the hoard of beetles, psyllids, and gall wasps that attack eucalypt trees. The dotted paropsine leaf beetle (Paraopsis atomaria) was found on a lemon scented gum tree (Corymbia citriodora) in Los Angeles County. It was the first report of the dotted paropsine leaf beetle in North America, and it has since become more problematic throughout Southern California. Currently the extent of the spread is unknown.
Like eucalypt trees, the dotted paropsine leaf beetle is native to Australia, where it is known as an abundant pest of at least twenty Eucalyptus and Corymbia species. Some of these tree species are commonly found in California, including the red gum (E. camaldulensis), rose gum (E. grandis), sugar gum (E. cladocalyx), and the silver-dollar gum (E. polyanthemos).
What does it look like?
Adult beetles are about 3/8 of an inch with oval bodies and little beady black eyes (Figure 1). They are tan in color and covered in orangish dots. There are darker spots along the top and edges of the wings. The antennae are straight and become slightly darker toward the tip.
Eggs are laid in a circular cluster around young stems and leaves. They are tan, cylindrical, and are laid in clusters of 20 – 100 eggs. The larvae of the dotted paropsine leaf beetle are yellowish in color with black heads and black ends (Figure 2). As they age, they develop black stripes along the top and sides. When larvae are threatened, they will raise their black back end. They will drop to the ground to pupate.
Damage and Solutions
Although small, the dotted paropsine leaf beetle and its larvae can cause significant damage to the leaves of a host tree. If they do not eat the whole leaf, they will leave behind distinct notches in the leaves like other eucalyptus leaf beetles. Severe infestations can cause defoliation and eventual death in stressed or young trees.
You can protect Eucalyptus or Corymbia species against insect infestations by providing proper horticultural care. Reducing any water or other environmental stressors will allow the tree to successfully fight off insect infestations.
If you are removing a eucalypt tree or dealing with a severe infestation, consider replanting with a California native or other tree that will not be susceptible to the dotted paropsine leaf beetle and other eucalypt pest.
- Author: Dong Hwan Choe
UCR Fumigation School was successfully held on Oct 27-28, 2021 at Kellogg West Conference Center (Pomona, CA). We had over 70 participants for the event from pest management industry and other related fields serving in pest management. Here are some photos from the event.
To find more about the UCR Fumigation School and 2021 program, visit HERE./span>
Two identical looking species of wood-boring beetles, collectively known as invasive shothole borers (ISHB), have killed thousands of trees in Southern California and pose an ongoing threat to California's urban and wildland forests. These beetles, which are not native to the United States, were first identified in Los Angeles County in 2012 and have since spread to six other counties: Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.
Beetles, Fungus, and Impact
As the fungus grows, it colonizes the tree's vascular system, blocking transport of water and nutrients. This causes a disease called Fusarium dieback that can kill branches or entire trees. The beetles and their symbiotic fungi have a wide range of suitable hosts, including more than 65 species of trees found in California. The most highly susceptible trees include many of the species commonly used for landscaping, such as sycamores, oaks, cottonwoods, and box elder trees. ISHB beetles attack healthy trees as well as stressed or diseased trees in a variety of urban, suburban, and riparian settings. Visit www.ishb.org to find the full list of reproductive hosts in California.
Female beetles can fly short distances, allowing the pest-disease complex to spread into new areas near already infested trees. Beetles can also be transported in infested firewood and green waste, leading to spread over much greater distances. While beetles have only been identified in Southern California and the Central Coast to date, further spread throughout much of California is possible.
ISHB-infested trees can quickly become public safety hazards. Trees with heavily infested branches can be especially hazardous, since the combined damage of the fungal disease and the beetle's tunneling activity weakens the wood, causing limbs to break and fall. In addition, severely infested trees will become constant sources of beetles that can disperse and infest neighboring trees. Such “amplifier” trees generally need to be removed completely, while more lightly infested trees can be managed or treated without requiring removal. Therefore, early detection and rapid response is the key to controlling ISHB. Substantial recovery in lightly to moderately infested trees has been observed in some areas where amplifier trees have been removed.
Identifying an ISHB infestation
- Beetle entry holes: When the beetles tunnel into trees they make small, perfectly round holes, each about the size of the tip of a medium ballpoint pen (0.8 mm). (Figure 3)
- Additional signs and symptoms: Entry holes are usually accompanied by one or more of the following signs and symptoms, which vary by the tree species: staining, gumming, white powdery exudate, or frass (boring dust).
- Dieback: Dead or wilting branches can be a sign of a severe infestation. If you see dieback on trees, check for entry holes on the trunk or the branch collars.
In addition to visual inspections, traps using quercivorol, a plant-based lure that attracts the beetles over short distances, can help determine the presence and abundance of beetles in an area. Trapping is especially useful for large or inaccessible areas where regular visual inspections of all the trees are not practical. In those cases, trapping can help determine if ISHB is present in the area and can help focus survey efforts on infested trees. Because the lure has relatively low attractiveness, trapping is not an effective control method for ISHB and is only used for detection purposes.
What Can You Do?
- Keep trees healthy. Proper irrigation and maintenance will keep trees strong and help protect them from ISHB and other pests.
- Prune out infested branches. Removing branches that have clusters of 50 ot more ISHB holes would help control this pest. For trees that undergo heavy pruning every year, like avocado trees, removal of all infested branches is recommended. Tools should be disinfected after pruning by spraying them with a solution of 5% disinfecting bleach or 70% ethanol to avoid spreading the fungal disease to other trees.
- Remove severely infested trees. Unfortunately, severely infested trees (with more than 150 entry holes and ISHB-related dieback) are not likely to survive. These trees should be removed as soon as possible, and the stump should be ground to one inch or less. (Figure 4)
- Manage downed wood. Green waste generated by branch and tree removals should be properly disposed.
- Chipping/grinding to one inch or less kills 99.9% of the beetles. If that is not possible, chipping to three inches or less still will kill 98% of the beetles in the wood. In already infested areas, chipped wood can be used onsite as mulch. However, if working on a newly infested area or if the wood chips will be moved to another area, chipping should be combined with solarization or composting to kill 100% of the beetles. If chipping is not an option, logs can also be solarized or kiln dried to exterminate the beetles.
- Solarization involves covering the material with clear plastic tarp and letting the heat from the sun kill the remaining beetles. Chips and beetles should be fully contained by wrapping plastic both underneath and over the material. Chips should remain covered for at least six weeks during the summer months or for at least six months between September and June. The depth of the pile should be no more than 30 inches deep, to ensure even heating.
- Composting, when done correctly, should also kill the remaining beetles in the chips. It is recommended to send infested chips to a professional composting facility that has earned the U.S. Composting Council's Seal of Testing Assurance.
- Prevent the spread. Avoid spreading this pest by not moving firewood or mulch that hasn't been properly solarized or composted. If you must move infested greenwaste (for example, to bring it to a composting facility) make sure the load is tightly covered while in transit.
- Consider chemical control.TreesthatarereproductivehostsforISHB and that show signs of active infestations can be treated with a combination of insecticide and fungicide. The decision to treat a particular tree depends, among other things, on the tree's condition, value, and hazard level. Trees that aren't already infested should be monitored but not treated. There are various chemicaloptionsthatcanbeusedagainstISHB-FD.
- Trunk sprays of a contact insecticide, such as bifenthrin, combined with Bacillus subtilis or tebuconazole (which are fungicides) have been demonstrated to offer some degree of control.
- Systemic soil injections or drenching with the insecticide imidacloprid has also provided control, as has trunk injection with emamectin benzoate (insecticide) combined with tebuconazole or propiconazole (fungicides).
- These pesticides should only be applied by a licenced professional following the instructions on their labels to avoid harming non-target organisms.
Biocontrol options are currently under research. They include the use of natural enemies (such as parasitic wasps from the beetles' point of origin), entomopathogenic fungi (which are fungi that attack insects), endophytes (which are microorganisms that live in the tree that may provide protection) and nematodes. But these biological management options might take time before they are tested and available. Until then, prevention, early detection, and rapid response are our best weapons to keep trees healthy and alive. For more information on invasive shothole borers and their management, visit www.ishb.org.
- Author: Elaine Lander
We've had many reports in the last two weeks from people asking what those big green, buzzing, beetles are. Green fruit beetles (Cotinis mutabilis) are members of the scarab beetle family and are sometimes known as fig beetles or figeater beetles. They are related to green June beetles (C. nitida) which are more commonly found in the South Eastern United States.
Green fruit beetles have a metallic green color and can be up to 1 1/3 inches long with prominent legs and antennae. The adults eat maturing soft fruit like figs and stone fruits, while the larvae (grubs) are found in compost or other decomposing matter. More on these occasional pests can be found on our website.