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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Miami, Florida » Subtropical Horticulture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #401897

Research Project: Mitigation of Invasive Pest Threats to U.S. Subtropical Agriculture

Location: Subtropical Horticulture Research

Title: Risk posed to Hass avocado and Mexican Lauraceae for attack by redbay ambrosia beetle, vector of laurel wilt

item Kendra, Paul
item GUILLEN, LARISSA - Ecology Institute
item Tabanca, Nurhayat
item Montgomery, Wayne
item Schnell, Elena
item DEYRUP, MARK - Archbold Biological Station
item Cloonan, Kevin

Submitted to: Entomological Society of America, International Branch Virtual Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/17/2023
Publication Date: 4/24/2023
Citation: Kendra, P.E., Guillen, L., Tabanca, N., Montgomery, W.S., Schnell, E.Q., Deyrup, M.A., Cloonan, K.R. 2023. Risk posed to Hass avocado and Mexican Lauraceae for attack by redbay ambrosia beetle, vector of laurel wilt. Entomological Society of America, International Branch Virtual Symposium.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Redbay ambrosia beetle, Xyleborus glabratus, is an invasive wood-boring weevil native to Southeast Asia. It was first detected in the USA in 2002 near Savannah, Georgia; however, it has since spread and is now established in 12 southeastern states. The beetle’s dominant fungal symbiont, Harringtonia lauricola, is the pathogen that causes laurel wilt, a lethal vascular disease of trees in the family Lauraceae. Laurel wilt is responsible for high mortality of native Persea species (redbay P. borbonia, swampbay P. palustris, and silkbay P. humilis) along the coastal plain, and sassafras (Sassafras albidum) at higher elevations inland. In addition, laurel wilt has had a devastating effect on avocado (Persea americana) production in Florida. With continued range expansion, X. glabratus is likely to enter Mexico, threatening native forest species as well as the Mexican avocado industry based predominantly on the Hass cultivar. In advance of such an event, this study was conducted to assess the potential risk posed by X. glabratus. We used freshly cut bolts from Hass avocado and 8 native laurels (collected from Veracruz) to determine boring preferences in lab bioassays and relative attraction in field tests (conducted in Florida). In addition, GS-MS was used to analyze terpenoid emissions from each species to relate behavioral responses with wood phytochemistry. Results indicated that three species (Hass avocado, Persea schiedeana, and Ocotea heribertoi vel aff.) were highly attractive and likely to be attacked by female X. glabratus in the event of an incursion into Mexico. These findings emphasize the need for effective, early detection systems for this invasive pest, particularly in the avocado production areas of Michoacán, Mexico.