Beetle leaves trail of destruction

2019-10-16 06:02
Damage caused by the polyphagous shot hole borer.Photo: Lientjie Mentz

Damage caused by the polyphagous shot hole borer.Photo: Lientjie Mentz

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Bloem News, sister newspaper of Express, reported in May about the dangers facing gardens all over Bloemfontein.

Ornamental trees are dying in parks, private gardens and on pavements throughout most of South Africa.

The cause of all this destruction is a small beetle known as the polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) (Euwallacea fornicatus) and its associated fungal partner, Fusarium euwallaceae.

Many residents reported in May that the PSHB has invaded the trees in their gardens, and they are trying all kinds of cures to rid them of the problem.

This beetle was first reported in South Africa in February 2018, and its trail of destruction has spread like wildfire throughout Gauteng ever since.

Numerous cases have also been reported in Cape Town, Durban and, more recently, Bloemfontein.

According to Prof. Wijnand Swart, a plant scientist of the University of the Free State (UFS), scientists of seven universities in South Africa are collaborating through a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary research network to find a solution to this problem.

The University of the Free State is part of this network.

The Fichardtpark Neighbourhood Association (FNA) in Bloemfontein has taken the initiative to inform and educate its members and people residing in the greater Mangaung Metro about the dangers of this beetle and ways to prevent the problem from spreading in Bloemfontein.

A public information session on the PSHB will be held in the church hall of the Fichardtpark Dutch Reformed Church in 9 Altona Crescent today (16/10) at 18:00.

Swart and Dr Gert Marais will lead the discussion.

In addition, Hilton Fryer of Tree Survey in Johannesburg will also provide statistics as to the spread of PSHB in Gauteng where more numbers are available than locally.

Direct all enquiries to Duart Hugo of the FNA on 082-789-4615.

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