Shot-Hole Beetle

By From page A5 | December 28, 2012


On my five acres, east of Hanks Exchange Raad, during 2010, one of the Inland Live Oaks became host to a “Shot-Hole Beetle” infestation, bleeding streams of very sweet, somewhat sticky white foam, down the tree trunks and dripping from the limbs. Our “local information sources” called the problem: “alcoholic tree.” It was suggested I leave it alone.

This late summer, 2012, surrounding our “alcoholic tree,” 12 more Live Oaks were bleeding and dripping sticky, sweet white foam.

Concerned, I called the Institute of Forest Genetics Center on Carson Road, and the California Department of Forestry in Sacramento. Forest Pathologists visited my “alcoholic trees,” photographed them, tasted their sweet white foam, took branch samples and talked to me about the trees’ infestation.

When the “rice grain size” female Shot-Hole Beetle burrows its “Shot-Hole” into the tree, it lays its eggs in “galleries next to the heart wood. The eggs develop into larva, which feed upon the Cambium, the tree’s water and nutrient flow-layer, (i.e. the soft formation immediately under the bark). In defense against the larva, the tree floods the infested locations with the sticky white foam we see bleeding from the “Shot-Holes.”

The sticky, sweet white foam dripping from the branches, or running down the tree trunk of a Live Oak, is a healthy tree doing what it is supposed to do. So, I’ll leave the tree alone.

Warning: If you cut up the “infested” wood, do not relocate it. The beetle will exit the cut wood and infect trees in the new location. Leave it at the tree, or burn it immediately. Beware of infested trees when chipping Live Oak branches.

In place of its scientific binomial name, “Pseubopityophthorus pubipennis,” I’ll simply call it an “Alcoholic Tree,” or a “‘Shot-Hole Beetle’ infected tree.”


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