U.S. tests experimental foam to take on avocado tree pest

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U.S. tests experimental foam to take on avocado tree pest

A foam originally used to destroy termites is now under evaluation by U.S. scientists for use in combating a pest that threatens the country's US$322 million avocado crop. ARS - fungi foam

Researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are experimenting with the foam containing insect-killing fungi Metarhizium, Isaria, and Beauveria in orchard trials against ambrosia beetles.

Undertaken by the department's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the trials follow lab studies that confirmed the ability of these fungi to infect and kill the beetles. An ARS release said more than 95% of the beetles exposed to the fungi died.

If successful, the foam could be an alternative to insecticides, which the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research's Alejandro Rooney said may not be an effective disease management approach in this particular case.

The release highlighted the difficulties currently facing avocado growers in the country, with the redbay ambrosia beetle in Miami-Dade County, Florida and the polyphagous shot hole borer in California, particularly in the Los Angeles County.

Both beetles tunnel into the sapwood of avocado trees, inoculating them with pathogenic fungi in the process.

Photo: ARS



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