Ambrosia Beetles are small, destructive, wood-boring pests that are discreetly responsible for rapid canopy dieback and expedited tree mortality in many tree/shrub species (big and small). They are secondary invaders, which means they are attracted to individual trees/plants that have been weakened by a primary stressor (environmental or mechanical). These pessimistic critters essentially fly around sniffing out stressed trees, and then signal in their critter reinforcements to take the trees out of their misery, hence the nickname association.
Ambrosia Beetles emerge in early spring (consistent with Forsythia bloom period) and produce 4-6 generations/life cycles in a single growing season. That should be enough to trigger stress in any mature tree (my opinion). Anyways, this tiny beetle is so destructive because they clog a tree’s vascular system with fungus (Ambrosia) and disrupt transport of water and nutrients, Ambrosia Beetles are stealthy killers as they (themselves) are practically invisible to the naked eye. Being a small low-flying beetle, evidence of wet bark, frass accumulation in bark grooves (fine, powdery-looking “sawdust”) or frass tubes poking out of smooth bark, will generally appear on lower 6 feet of main stems, root collars, and major stem unions. Rapid canopy decline/dieback is another indicator to inspect closer for active populations.
Disturbances from increased development/construction projects, intensity of seasonal storms, as well as having an aging mature shade canopy are major contributing factors to the increasing Ambrosia Beetle populations in Charlotte, and the resulting damage. Canopy and soil management, pest monitoring, and early pest detection are critical components of a successful management program to protect mature trees from Ambrosia Beetles. Time-sensitive pesticide applications to lower-stems will also provide adequate protection throughout current and future growing seasons IF NOT TOO LATE! Contact your neighborhood Heartwood Arborist to help keep those “pessimistic pests” away from your (OUR) beloved trees.
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