Borer Beetle – What You Need to Know

If you are protective of the plants and flowers on your property, it is only natural to be worried about destructive pests and infestations.

You may have heard about the Shot Hole Borer Beetle recently, and the threat the beetles pose to trees and wildlife in South Africa. The beetle is one of the most significant threats to the health of South African trees and has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of trees since being introduced to the country in 2017.

Are you concerned about the borer beetle and the threat to the trees on your property? Below you will learn everything you need to know about the species and how to get rid of a dangerous spread of the destructive beetles in your yard.

What is the Shot Hole Borer Beetle?

Shot Hole Borer Beetle

The Shot Hole Borer Beetle is also known as the Euwallacea fornicatus and is one of the most destructive species of beetle to be introduced to the country. The species poses a threat to a number of different native and exotic tree species in South Africa.

The beetle is a native of Southeast Asia and a large variety of trees in South Africa can serve as hosts for the species. Infected trees can be host to over 100,000 beetles at a time. However, the beetles can only reproduce in certain exotic species of trees and these species are more likely to be infected by the hole borer than native trees.

What Does a Shot Hole Borer Look Like?

As they are so small, the beetles are difficult to spot. But the species are identifiable by the following characteristics if you do manage to pinpoint some beetles on the bark of your trees.

Measuring just 1-2 inches long, it has a blackish or dark brown cylindrical body. The larvae of the beetle are white with a black head and it has a C shape body position when disturbed.

What is the Life Cycle of a Shot Hole Borer Beetle?

There are four life stages of a borer beetle – these are the egg stage, the larvae stage, the pupa stage, and the adult beetle stage.

The cycle begins when the adult female beetles burrow down through the bark and create tunnels in the tree. In doing this they introduce the fungus Fusarium euwallacea into the wood. The female then lays its eggs in these tunnels and the fungus grows and spreads through the tree. Once the larvae hatch they begin to eat the fungus.

Once the larvae reach the adult stage, they will mate. Pregnant females will then exit the entry holes and either infest a different part of the tree or move to a different plant to start a new infestation.

When Did the Shot Hole Borer Beetle First Arrive in South Africa?

The Shot Hole Borer was first identified in South Africa in KwaZulu-Natal in 2017 and was later found in the Garden Route and other locations on the Western Cape. In fact, the species of beetle has now been identified in eight out of the nine provinces in the country.

The first instance of an infected tree was discovered by Dr. Trudy Paap in the KawZulu-Natal Botanical Gardens in Pietermaritzburg. During a routine inspection of the trees in the area, she identified the beetle and further identifications followed in other affected areas.

Since 2019, more than 1,000 trees in Somerset West have been destroyed due to infestation. Due to the destructive nature of the Shot Hole Borer and how quickly it spread, it is considered a huge danger to the native trees in South Africa.

Why is the Shot Hole Borer Considered to be one of the most Destructive Beetles for Trees in South Africa?

The Shot Hole Borer, (and the fungus its presence causes), have caused substantial damage to trees in the US and the Middle East. It is thought that this species of beetle are currently infesting more than 200 different types of tree species globally.

It is believed that the Shot Hole Borer Beetle is currently one of the most dangerous threats to ecology in South Africa. This is mostly due to the fungus it creates rather than the beetle itself.

One of the fungi which accompanies the presence of the Shot Hole Borer is Fusarium Euwallacea. And it is this species that is the main cause of the wilting of infected trees. The fungi are the main source of food for the beetles. Other types of fungi also help the beetles to breed and thrive on the infected trees. The combination of the Shot Hold Borer and the fungus it brings makes it one the most prolific killer of trees in the country.

How to Identify the Shot Hole Borer Beetle on the Trees in your Property

When it comes to the detection of the Shot Hole Borer, their size makes it difficult to spot them on the tree. The beetles are approximately 2mm long (the size of a small seed) and difficult to spot with the naked eye.

However, you can look out for the signs of an infection on the trees themselves. The symptoms of a shot hole borer infection depend on the species of trees, but there are still some general signs you can look out for.

Signs of a Shot Hole Borer on Trees and Plants

  • If your tree is wilting, this is a sign that it may be infected with these beetles.
  • Can you spot small entry or exit holes on the bark of the tree?
  • Are there sugar volcanoes flowing from the holes on the bark?
  • Is there resin oozing from the bark entry holes?
  • Can you see a tiny wooden power next to the entry holes in the wood?
  • You may be able to spot an infestation by the dead branches of the affected tree.

If you suspect that the trees in your property may be infected by borer beetles, you should take steps to deal with the problem immediately. Either by cutting down and burning the trees or contacting a professional pest control company to check for further signs of infestation.

What Creates the Small Holes on the Bark in Shot Hole Borer Host Trees?

Tree that is has a Borer Beetle

One of the main ways to spot the symptoms of an infestation on the tree itself is the small holes the beetle creates and the material oozing from the entryways created.

The holes on the bark are created when the beetles are working their way through the bark and into the sapwood beneath. You can spot these holes from the wood powder, sap flow, or sugar volcanoes created during this process. You may also be able to spot the brown fungus stains around the holes.

What Species of Trees are At Risk of Being Infected?

As we mentioned above, there are more than 200 species of trees that are at risk of being infected by the beetles. So obviously, there isn’t space to list each one of the trees at risk. However, here is a list of the South African native trees that can function as the reproductive host trees for the beetles.

  • Cape Willow Trees
  • Coast Coral Trees
  • Forest Bushwillow Trees
  • Fountain Bush Trees
  • Forest Bushwillow Trees.

Some types of trees are more likely to fall victim to an infestation. If trees are already dying, ill, and stressed they will be one of the most likely to attract the beetle. Because these trees still contain enough moisture to allow the beetle to thrive while being weak enough to allow easy burrowing and colonization.

What to Do if You Suspect your Trees Have Been Infected by Shot Hole Borer Beetles?

  • If you suspect your trees have been infected by the beetle species, the first thing to do is report it to your local Invasive Species Unit. It is important that each one of the infestations is properly reported.
  • So far the reported infestations have been randomly situated with no discernable pattern which can be used to predict the danger of further spreading. However, it is believed that humans and their travels around different regions in the country have been the main cause of the spreading of beetles and larvae to new areas.

Can You Treat Trees that are Infested with Shot Hole Borer Beetles?

if you have spotted the signs of a shot hole borer infection on the trees on your property, you will naturally be keen to know if there is a remedy you can use to get rid of them and protect your plants.

Unfortunately, there is no effective remedy to use on the bark of infected trees and plants. treatments such as insecticides have not proven effective because the beetles burrow deep down into the wood beneath the bark.

Therefore your priority will be to limit the spread to other trees on your property. One of the most effective ways to make sure the infestation has been dealt with is to cut down the wood and branches of the infected trees. You should then burn the wood to make sure that the beetles are unable to spread to other plants on your property.

You should also make sure not to move any fire wood or other wood piles in your yard. The beetles are more than likely to have infected these areas as well and in moving the wood you may be spreading them around the property.

Contact a Professional Pest Control Company in South Africa

One of the most effective ways to ensure that a borer beetle infestation is dealt with effectively is to contact a professional pest company (such as Big Bug pest Control.) Experts will be able to tell if there is an infestation of this type of beetle in a plant or tree. As they deal with these types of pests regularly, they will be experienced enough to quickly spot the signs.

They will also be able to ensure that infected trees are dealt with safely and effectively and give you expert advice to ensure that your garden is an infestation-free zone in the future.

Why is it So Important that You Deal with a Tree that is Infected by Shot Hole Borer Beetles?

As we have seen above, these species of beetle are very destructive, and populous and cannot be treated with tree treatments and insecticides with are the solution to other infestations.

It is therefore essential that you take the steps to deal with a tree that has been infected by this beetle. Make sure to be vigilant with the inspections of your trees and property and that you deal with an infected tree promptly.

South Africa’s Animals and Nature Depend on Healthy Tree Species to Survive

South Africa is home to hundreds of different types of birds and mammals, and many of them rely on trees for nutrition, sustenance, and shelter. This is the reason that the spread of the shot hole borer from tree to tree is so worrying.

So, to ensure that South Africa’s animals continue to thrive, you must take swift and immediate action to burn any infected tree. It is also very important that you take the steps to inform the relevant authorities so that they can take the steps to help protect the environment.

Where Can You Find Professional and Affordable Pest Control Services in South Africa?

If you are worried that your trees and plants may be showing symptoms of this or another beetle infestation, such as drooping leaves, small holes, and dead branches, then you can deal with the problem quickly and effectively by contacting Bug Bug Pest Control.

We will help you to deal with a variety of different pest issues on your property such as the shot hole borer and other wood-destroying beetles.

If there is an effective and safe treatment for an infestation of pests and rodents on your land, our experienced experts will be able to affordably and quickly deal with the problem.

As one of the most experienced and well-regarded pest control companies in South Africa, we will be able to advise you on the perfect way to deal with your problem as soon as possible.

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