“In an August media release, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) informed farmers and the public of the detection of a new pest of concern – the polyphagous shot hole borer beetle. So far, it has been identified across the country, including slightly north of Polokwane, and more recently in the Kruger National Park.”
“A tiny pest has reached Durban and is responsible for mysterious fungal die-offs of trees, from indigenous forest trees to fruit trees like avocados.”
“THE Botanical Society of South Africa KZN Coastal Branch presents Responding to the Polyphagous Shot-hole Borer infestation, an illustrated talk by Johan Bodenstein, on Monday, 29 October at Durban Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre at 5.30pm for 6pm.”
“South Africa’s largest city proudly notes that it has one of the world’s largest urban forests. But an invasive insect has been killing Johannesburg’s trees by the tens of thousands, and baffled experts are scrambling to find ways to stop it.”
Adam Welz draws some interesting parallels between the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB) beetle crisis in South Africa with experiences from the PSHB infestation discovered in California 10 years ago. Adam Welz is a South African writer, photographer, and filmmaker based in Cape Town. His work includes an award-winning film about eccentric birders in New York City and exposés of environmental crime throughout southern Africa. He writes about international and African wildlife issues for Yale Environment 360.
“The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PHSB) and Fusarium dieback is a new insect-disease complex threatening South Africa. Up to 60 species of alien and indigenous trees are under threat, including avocado trees. Do you have shot hole borer damage in your trees?”
It’s a Friday and time for our weekly tech feature called Techbase. And tonight we’re speaking to the developer of the mobile app that allows people to report infestations of the tiny beetle that is killing South African trees. Earlier we spoke to an academic involved in efforts to deal with the Polyphagous shot hole borer. It bores holes into tree trunks and then spreads a fungus it carries which cuts off the system that transports water and nutrients. It is impossible to tell how many trees have already died or will. The app is called “Tree Survey”, and the developer is Hilton Fryer.
“Local tree enthusiasts are bracing themselves as it has emerged that the admired 110-year-old Plane trees that line the avenue at the Pietermaritzburg Botanical Gardens in Mayor’s Walk are being threatened by invasive beetles spreading to trees throughout South Africa.”
“The polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB), a beetle that devastated green belts in California and avocado plantations in Israel, has been identified in South Africa. Containment is no longer possible, and institutions are now looking to control the infestation nationally. Policy and protocols need to be developed, however this takes time – spring has just arrived and the beetles are now flying.”
“Heuristic Guru, a data science consultancy, has partnered with Solution House, a software development company, to deploy the mobile app “Tree Survey” to report PSHB infestation to regional and national stakeholders. This incident management platform supports GIS reporting to enable PSHB infestation to be tracked within the country, which will allow municipalities to respond as the beetle reaches them.”
“There is a new bug in town. And this little bug is dangerous and destroying trees and surrounding plants. The polyphagous shot hole borer was first reported in Johannesburg as it threatens to kill trees across the country and has already decimated the old English oaks of Knysna.”
“It’s a terrible bug and so tiny that you hardly notice it – Hilton Fryer, Managing Director of Heuristic Guru”