What's Killing Our Trees?

Scientists say they know what's responsible for the death of more than 10,000 trees in San Diego County.

A beetle that feeds on healthy trees is leading to the death of oaks in San Diego County and creating a fire hazard, according to county agricultural and state fire officials. The attacks from the gold-spotted oak borer have contributed to the death of more than 10,000 county oaks.
Experts believe the pest may have spread to the county in firewood.
Residents are being encouraged to use local firewood and to avoid chopping down backcountry oaks to fight the bug's spread.
The brown, bullet-shaped beetle attacks healthy, mature oaks on main stems and large branches. Larvae feed on the underside of the bark, causing strips or patches of the tree to die. The trees eventually die after repeated attacks.
Infestations have been reported in several areas including Julian, Alpine and Pine Valley.

An alert was released by the Cleveland National Forest in August 2008, announcing the discovery of a new beetle.

“ The beetle is the reason why deaths in Coast live oak and California black oak from the community of Alpine; east to Mt Laguna; and north to Julian have been happening in such large numbers,” according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Evidence of insect attacks on oak trees can be seen by the presence of the insect under the bark, D-shaped exit holes in the bark, woodpecker foraging, and bark staining on the trunk of the tree and larger branches, according to the release.

You can also help limit the spread by removing the bark of infested trees, chip oak wood or remove dead or recently dying oak trees.

Homeowners may call the California Department of Agriculture at (619) 698-0211 or the University of California Extension office at (858)694-3897 for additional information about protecting oak trees on private land.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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