- "A Study of Landing Behaviour by the Walnut Twig Beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis, Among Host and Nonhost Hardwood Trees in a Northern California Riparian Forest" (https://doi.org/10.1111/afe.12385).
- "Walnut Twig Beetle Landing Rates Differ Between Host and Nonhost Hardwood Trees under the Influence of Aggregation Pheromone in a Northern California Riparian Forest" (https://doi.org/10.1111/afe.12410)
The walnut twig beetle, in association with the fungus, Geosmithia morbida, causes the insect-pathogen complex known as "thousand cankers disease," which wreaks havoc on walnut trees. The insect, measuring about 1.5 millimeters long, is smaller than a grain of rice.
"The first study is one of few bark beetle host selection studies conducted without the use of semiochemical lures," Audley said. "Together, both studies provide strong evidence for directed flight host searching and in-flight, host discrimination behaviors by Pityophthorus juglandis. These papers highlight sources of and provide an ecological context for potential non-host, volatile compounds that may be of use in semiochemical repellents to protect walnut trees from attack by P. juglandis."
- The host selection behaviour of the walnut twig beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis, was assessed by monitoring the landing rates of the beetles with sticky sheet traps on the host and nonhost hardwood branches.
- Sticky sheet traps were deployed for 8 weeks from 6 June to 2 August. 2017 in the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve, Davis, CA. Branches from host northern California black walnut, Juglans hindsii, were paired with branches from six nonhost hardwood species.
- The landing rate of P. juglandis (412 beetles trapped/8 weeks; 389 on host branches, 23 on nonhost branches) was significantly greater on the host branches for all nonhost hardwoods except Populus fremontii. Proportional comparisons of beetle presence also revealed a significant preference for the host branches compared with all but two nonhost species, Acer negundo and P. fremontii.
- Capturing P. juglandis without the use of an aggregation pheromone was a rare event, underscoring the difficulty of studying the initial phases of host selection behaviour in bark beetles. Unbaited funnel traps adjacent to selected host trees in the experiment only captured five individuals over a 19‐week period. None were captured in traps adjacent to nonhost trees.
- This study provided evidence that P. juglandis discriminates between host and nonhost branches while in‐flight. This directed flight behaviour is likely informed by the recognition of both host and nonhost volatile cues.
- This study established an ecological context for the development of a semiochemical‐based repellent system for protecting walnut trees from future attacks from this invasive bark beetle.
Second Paper: Walnut Twig Beetle Landing Rates
- Host selection behaviour of the walnut twig beetle (WTB) among hardwood trees was investigated in a riparian forest in northern California by monitoring the landing rate of the beetle with sticky traps on branches baited with 3‐methyl‐2‐buten‐1‐ol, the male‐produced aggregation pheromone.
- The assay was conducted over 7 days (22 May to 29 May 2017) and compared landing rates on branches of six nonhost species paired with northern California black walnut, Juglans hindsii (the host).
- A total of 2242/1192 WTB were collected on branches of host/nonhost pairs, and more WTB landed on J. hindsii than on nonhosts in 42 of 58 instances. Female landing rate generally exceeded male landing rate, which underscores the influence of the male‐produced synthetic pheromone in this system.
- Landing rates of WTB males, females, and the combined sexes on boxelder, Acer negundo, and valley oak, Quercus lobata, did not differ significantly from the landing rates on J. hindsii, suggesting that these two nonhost riparian hardwoods do not repel WTB (in the context of the aggregation pheromone).
- Significantly fewer WTB landed on Oregon ash, Fraxinus latifolia, river red gum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Fremont cottonwood, Populus fremontii, and red willow, Salix laevigata, than on J. hindsii, which suggests that these four nonhosts may repel one or both sexes of WTB in the context of the aggregation pheromone. Future analysis of the volatiles from these four hardwood species may lead to the discovery of semiochemical repellents for WTB.
Co-authors (in addition to Audley, Homicz, Seybold and Bostock) are Yigen Chen, Foundation Research, Analytics and Business Applications, E. & J. Gallo Winery, Modesto, Calif.; and scientist Catherine Tauber, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and formerly with the Department of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
Audley is now a postdoctoral fellow funded by the Oak Ridge Laboratories, and based at the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Davis. While at UC Davis, Audley investigated behavioral chemicals that repel the walnut twig beetle from landing on English walnut trees. He conducted his research in a commercial orchard near Winters. He received the 2019 Western Forest Insect Work Conference (WFIWC) Memorial Scholarship Award for his research on the chemical ecology of the walnut twig beetle. He holds a master's degree in forestry (2015) from the University of Tennessee, and a bachelor of science degree in wildlife biology and natural resource recreation and tourism (2009) from the University of Georgia.
Homicz, who joined the UC Davis doctoral program in September 2019, received a bachelor of science degree in animal biology with an emphasis in entomology (2018) from UC Davis. Her practicum: "Landing Behavior of the Walnut Twig Beetle on Host and Non-Host Hardwood Trees Under the Influence of Aggregation Pheromone in a Northern California Riparian Forest." She holds associate degrees in both biology and natural sciences (2016) from Shasta College.
For more information on the walnut twig beetle and thousand cankers disease, see the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program website.
Audley, who conducts his research in a commercial orchard near Winters, investigates behavioral chemicals that repel the walnut twig beetle from landing on English walnut trees. The walnut twig beetle (Pityophthorus juglandis), in association with a canker-producing fungus, Geosmithia morbida, causes the insect-pathogen complex known as thousand cankers disease.
“The disease threatens both native black walnuts across North America and agriculturally important English walnut, particularly in California,” said Audley, who received the $1000 award at the recent conference in Anchorage. “My research focuses on improving our understanding of the walnut twig beetle's chemical ecology and developing a semiochemical repellent tool to manage the threat.”
The scholarship memorializes Mark Duane McGregor, a bark beetle management specialist who died in April 1990 while conducting forest entomology research in Idaho. The scholarship has since expanded to honor other deceased WFIWC members.
Audley, who expects to receive his doctorate in entomology by December 2019, is co-advised by Steve Seybold, lecturer and faculty affiliate with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and a forest entomologist and chemical ecologist with the Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Davis; Associate Professor Louie Yang of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and Professor Richard “Rick” Bostock of the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology. The Bostock lab is heavily involved with the chemistry side of Audley's repellent research. Seybold and Bostock have shared a California Department of Food and Agriculture grant with the doctoral student.
Audley is invited to deliver a plenary lecture on his dissertation at the WFIWC meeting next year in Calgary, Alberta.
Audley, who was born in Washington D.C., but spent most of his childhood in Atlanta, Ga., was first introduced to forest entomology while he was a student at the University of Georgia, Athens, where he received his bachelor of science in wildlife biology and natural resource recreation and tourism in 2009. He then received his master's degree in forestry in 2015 from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he focused his thesis on managing the walnut twig beetle (WTB) in cut black walnut logs, live edged boards, and nursery stock. He joined the UC Davis doctoral program in September 2015.
“My academic and work history have shaped my interest in researching invasive bark and wood boring beetles,” Audley said in his award application. “I am fascinated with the biology and ecology of these invaders and their interactions with native, often naïve host trees. My plan is to continue to pursue research pertaining to the ecology and management of invasive bark and wood boring beetles, focusing on chemical ecology and semiochemical disruption.”
His research at UC Davis includes conducting field-based research relating to the chemical ecology of WTB in northern California walnut orchards and native riparian forests; assisting on several WTB-related research projects, including a trial on the efficacy of emamectin benzoate in protecting walnuts from WTB and thousand cankers disease (TCD), and a project assessing the impact of WTB and TCD on the productivity of English walnut orchards in California. In addition, Audley has monitored and sorted the trap catches from numerous walnut twig beetle flight intercept traps, maintained year round in northern California and performs sorting and identification for similar traps maintained by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
Active in WFIWC, Audley delivered a presentation on the walnut twig beetle in 2018 as part of an invasive species symposium. He also serves as the student representative on the Founders' Award Committee. At UC Davis, he teaches and mentors students on forest entomology.
His career plans? “I plan to devote my career to conducting chemical ecology-based research of bark and wood boring beetles that threaten trees in forest landscapes in the western U.S.,” Audley said. “In this capacity, I plan to continue adding to the scientific understanding of bark beetle ecology and management.”
Audley aims to engage with the scientific community and public alike in the arena of forest health issues and sound forest management practices. “Our western forests are in dire need of sound forest management to return them to a healthier state, and I plan to conduct and disseminate research to help achieve that goal.”
The article, “Status and Impact of Walnut Twig Beetle in Urban Forest, Orchard and Native Forest Ecosystems,” published in the Journal of Forestry, updates the spread of the disease, and chronicles the role of the bark beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis, and the canker-producing fungus, Geosmithia morbida, in killing walnut trees, especially black walnuts.
Native to southwestern United States and northern Mexico, the bark beetle, about half the size of a grain of rice, “has invaded urban, orchard and native forest habitats throughout the United States, as well as Italy,” said lead author and forest entomologist Steven Seybold of the Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Davis, and a lecturer and researcher with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Walnut twig beetles (WTB) tunnel into branches and trunks of walnut (Juglans) where they create galleries for mating and reproduction. They carry spores of the fungus into their galleries, and the resulting fungal infection causes formation of cankers, which coalesce and girdle branches and stems.
Between 2005 and 2016, the disease killed nearly 60 percent of the 210 specimens of southern California black walnut mature trees in the USDA Agricultural Research Service's National Clonal Germplasm Repository Juglans Collection near Winters, Seybold said. “This is only an estimate and the true proportion of the mortality is likely much higher, as only six of the 210 trees were rated as having healthy crowns in August 2016."
Seybold estimated that the E Street tree is about 150 years old, "maybe older" and around 50 feet in height. It measures almost 65 inches--or just over five feet--in diameter.
“The walnut twig beetle is also significant because it is the consummate invasive species; it is small enough to travel under the bark of modest-sized pieces of barked wood and it can withstand relatively dry conditions that it might encounter during transit,” Seybold said. “We believe that it has moved from isolated Arizona black walnut trees along creeks and rivers in the desert Southwest to nearly the entire western USA wherever walnut trees of any species have been planted or grew naturally. It has also been transported to Europe and established significant populations in Italy.”
Seybold noted that the disease is “unique because of its multifaceted negative impact on walnut trees involved in landscaping, food production, and forestry. Walnut trees are valuable ecologically and for food and timber, so the walnut twig beetle is a good model in which to study the impact of a bark beetle on forest and agro-ecosystem services.”
Other co-authors are Professor William Klingeman III of the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee, and forest entomologist Tom Coleman with the USDA Forest Service's Southern Region, Asheville, N.C..
UC Davis doctoral student Jackson Audley of the Seybold lab and Richard Bostock lab (Plant Pathology), contributed photos of dead and dying walnut trees in the Davis area, along with UC Davis doctoral student Corwin Parker and Hishinuma. Audley, who is researching an ensemble of behavioral chemicals that repel the walnut twig beetle from landing on English walnut trees, conducts his research in a commercial orchard near Winters.
“WTB is one of a few invasive bark beetles in North America where expanding distribution and impact have been pronounced enough to affect other species, communities, and ecosystems to the extent that services provided by urban forests, agroecosystems, and wildland areas have been altered,” the co-authors concluded in their paper. “We envision that ecological impacts of WTB will continue to unfold across a wider geographic area to affect various types of key services, i.e., provisioning (e.g., timber and nontimber products); regulating (e.g., air and water quality/quantity, climate regulation); and cultural (e.g., recreation, aesthetics, shade) services.”
Scientists first collected the beetle in North America in 1896 in New Mexico, 1907 in Arizona, 1959 in California, and 1960 in Mexico, but never considered it a major pest of walnut trees until black walnuts began deteriorating and dying in New Mexico in the early 2000s. Walnut tree mortality that occurred in the early 1990s in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah and in the Willamette Valley of Oregon is now attributed to TCD.
“Currently, good cultural practices and sanitation of infested materials are the primary strategies for disease management within orchards and also for prevention of spread of the disease and vector to regions with low rates of infection,” according to the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM)>
UC IPM recommends that trees with less than 50 percent live crown be removed to reduce the buildup of walnut twig beetles and inoculum in the trunk and larger scaffold branches. "Chemical control with either fungicides or insecticides is not recommended for management of thousand cankers disease," UC IPM says.
The seminar takes place from 4 to 5 p.m. in Room 3001 of the Plant and Environmental Science Building.
Audley is presenting a preview of his thesis project in the UC Davis Forest Biology Research Center Seminar Series.
The remaining schedule includes:
Nov. 1 – Alison Scott, postdoctoral student, UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, “The Polyploid Origin and Evolutionary History of California Redwoods”
Nov. 15 – Brian Smithers, Ph.D student, Ecology Graduate Group, "Mechanisms of Range Shifts in Great Basin Sub‐Alpine Bristlecone Pine Forests."
Nov. 29 – Sarah Bisbing, assistant professor, Forest Ecosystem Science, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, University of Nevada, Reno, "Looking Backward to See Forward: Causes and Consequences of Altered Disturbance and Climate on Western Conifer Forests.”
Dec. 6 ‐ Ryan Tompkins, Forest Silviculturist, U.S. Forest Service/Plumas National Forest, “Sierra Nevada Silviculture in the New World Order: Challenges, Uncertainties, and Opportunities”
All seminars will be held at 4 p.m. in Room 3001 of the Plant and Environmental Science Building. For more information, contact David Neale at email@example.com.
He's talking about bark beetles that attack forests. They “Come Together” but won't “Let It Be.”
Seybold, a research entomologist with the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Davis, and a lecturer with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will present the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house, “Bark Beetles and Trees, Forest Health in California,” from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 27.
The event is free and open to the public. The museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
“As of last winter, bark beetles had killed 102 million trees in California during the last drought period,” said Seybold, a Davis resident who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley and a bachelor of science degree in forestry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “Tree mortality in the western USA over the past 15 years caused by native bark beetles exceeded 21 million hectares, which surpasses all other disturbances, including fire.”
Seybold is known for his pioneering research on the walnut twig beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis, associated with widespread mortality of black walnut in the western United States.
“The Bohart Museum on Sunday will be Bark Beetle Forest Central,” said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
Said Seybold: “We are planning to have a series of four to five ‘stations' that illustrate the mass attack of native bark beetles on pine and fir trees; the biology and impact of invasive species of bark beetles and woodborers; and the flight trapping and chemical ecology of bark beetles. We are also planning some craft activities for kids that involve the gallery patterns that bark beetles etch on wood during their life cycles.”
They will be joined by local environmental artist Ann Savageau, a mixed-media artist whose work includes creating sculptures from wood with gallery patterns on it. Savageau, who retired as a professor of design from UC Davis in 2002, is now a full-time artist. She describes her work as dealing with :the natural world, human culture and their intersections."
Seybold's scientific crew at the Bohart Museum on Sunday will include be Yigen Chen, former research entomologist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and now with Gallo Wines in Modesto, Jackson Audley and Corwin Parker, UC Davis entomologist graduate students; Irene Lona, graduate student at California State University, Chico; Megan Siefker, UC Davis junior specialist; and Crystal Homicz, UC Davis, undergraduate student.
Numerous Bohart Museum scientists and volunteers also will participate. “We'll have a family craft project that will deal with the beetle gallery,” Yang said.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, is a world-renowned insect museum that houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It also maintains a live “petting zoo,” featuring walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and tarantulas. A gift shop, open year around, offers T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free.