Studies on Ambrosia Beetles Affecting Nursery Crops and Fruit Trees in Kentucky

Grants and Contracts Details


Ambrosia beetles are serious pests affecting a wide variety of ornamental and fruit tree species. Adult beetles bore into the sapwood and heartwood of trees making galleries that may consist of one to several tunnels and a brood chamber, then they inoculate a specific symbiotic fungus. This fungus is utilized as food for adults and larvae. However, it is not well known if the symbiotic fungus, any other secondary organism, or both are the causal agent of tree mortality. In Kentucky, there is no documented information on ambrosia beetle attack to nursery or fruit tree producers. However, ambrosia beetles have been killing trees and making them non-marketable in different areas of Kentucky. Surveys for ambrosia beetles (using ethanol baited traps) conducted in Western Kentucky in 2016 (Viloria, unpublished) detected the presence of six invasive ambrosia beetle species. The most dominant species were the Granulate ambrosia beetle (Xylosandrus crasiusculus), Black stem borer (Xylosandrus germanus), and Camphor shot borer (Cnestus mutilatus) in three counties. It is known that invasive ambrosia beetles are able to colonize live tree tissues. Precisely the three species named above are species of Asian origin. These three species have been identified as the most destructive ambrosia beetles to nursery crops. They have a wide host range and can attack trees, bushes and vines in ornamental nurseries, orchards (peaches, cherry and apples), gardens, arboreta and landscapes. The granulate ambrosia beetle was ranked third as a key pest in Georgia, nonetheless, the magnitude of the damage is unknown. Ambrosia beetles are able to detect stressed trees that rerelease ethyl alcohol. Management tactics during planting that reduce stress will be evaluated in this project. This proposal includes a partnership between nursery growers, the University of Kentucky, and it will have a multistate impact as well. Dr. Christopher Ranger, an expert on ambrosia beetles working for USDA-ARS at Wooster, Ohio, will be cooperating with this project. In addition, this is a multidisciplinary project with PI’s from the horticulture (Drs. Dunwell and Viloria) and entomology (Dr. Villanueva,) departments of UK from Princeton and Lexington (Drs. Bessin, and Obrycki). The main objective of this study is to identify and manage ambrosia beetle species affecting nurseries in Kentucky, we plan to complete this with the following more detailed objectives: a. to monitor and identify ambrosia species associated to nursery crops or fruit trees in Kentucky, b. to evaluate the horticultural practices to disrupt ambrosia beetle infestations, and to develop management strategies to prevent ambrosia beetle attack to nursery stocks.
Effective start/end date11/1/179/29/20


  • KY Department of Agriculture: $29,954.00


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