[Everywhere, FL] One avocado tree is confirmed dead, while many others are feared to be in danger due to a spreading menace across Florida: the redbay ambrosia beetle, otherwise known as the avocado killing beetle or, by its scientific name, Xyleborus glabratus Eichhoff. Gesundheit.
The killer, which originally came from Asia, is shown above in a mug shot.
The redbay ambrosia beetle carries laurel wilt disease, which kills avocado, red bay, swamp bay and sassafras trees. Not sassafras! There goes my favorite Cajun and Creole dishes which I just read about for the first time on Wikipedia.
The spread of this killer bug is actually pretty serious business as both red bay and swamp bay tree varieties are quite common in Florida. You see them everywhere, but don’t actually know what they are called, nor do you care.
Already, there have been confirmed kills and sightings in the northern and southern parts of the state. Yes, beetlemania is officially upon us.
Once a victim is infected by wilt disease, it can be only a matter of weeks or months before it draws its final breath. Or whatever it is that trees do.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is asking for your help in apprehending the killer. The only reward will be the continued enjoyment of delicious avocado on your salads and in festive dips. Or try an avocado shake with chocolate sauce (pictured below).
Avocado milkshake with chocolate
The avocado industry could lose tens of millions of dollars if this menace were to spread. Think of the children … of the people who eat avocados (kids don’t eat them because they are gross looking). Where will their chips go when there is no guacamole?
Mexican restaurants will have to shut down. We’ll all have to go back to using sour cream (yikes).
When inspecting laurel trees to look for signs of an avocado killing beetle attack, you should look for reddish or purplish discoloration near the wilted areas. That’s what she said.
And by she I mean Denise Feiber, public information director of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Division of Plant Industry.
“Removal of bark at the point of attack reveals shot-holes from which a dark stain extends into the surrounding xylem,” said Feiber, as reported by Highlands Today. “The stain is the tree’s response to infection by the fungus, which gradually spreads through much of the outer sapwood.”
WTF? I didn’t understand any of that either.
Spot an avocado killing beetle? Call the bug police at 888-397-1517.
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
Image: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
avocado killing beetle