Beetle infestation killing trees at UC Irvine

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UC Irvine's environmental staff is watching more than 1,500 trees closely with plans to chop down at least 1,000, because they've been invaded by a tiny species of beetle. (KABC)

UC Irvine's environmental staff plans to chop down at least 1,000 trees, because they've been invaded by a tiny species of beetle.

"We're seeing an infestation of the polyphagous shot hole borer," said John Kabashima, who studies infestations for the UC system.

The beetle, also called the PSHB, goes for trees that need a lot of water and enter through a small hole, Kabashima said.

"It's about the size of the tip of the ballpoint pen," Kabashima said.

One hole may not be obvious, but the beetle reproduces and experts say within two to three years, the tree gets covered in the holes and the beetles attack it from the inside out.

"Fungus blocks those tunnels, so that the tree eventually won't be able to supply the water to the branches and the leaves," Kabashima said.

UC Irvine is taking action now, so the infestation doesn't spread. It's already in parts of Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Los Angeles counties.

Experts plan to test different pesticides at the university, in hopes of saving trees all over Southern California.

"It's very prevalent in the Orange County region, so things we can learn on the campus here, hopefully can be applied to the region around us," said Richard Demerjian, from the university's environmental planning and sustainability office.

Those who spot any signs of the beetle are asked to report it at www.pshb.org.

Related Topics:
environmentUCUC IrvineIrvineOrange County
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