The Ambrosia Beetle is a destructive wood-boring insect that preys on weak trees, bringing with it a deadly fungus that destroys the tree’s vascular system, ultimately killing the tree. since this is the time of year Ambrosia Beetles will begin to enter trees around the DC Metro Area.
Ambrosia Beetles enter trees by boring through the tree’s bark. Strong, healthy trees are able to push out sap and clog these holes; however, weaker trees don’t have the vigor for this and don’t put up much resistance. Once in the weakened trees, these beetles excavate a system of tunnels in the wood and introduce a symbiotic ambrosial fungus. This fungus is what the beetles feed on and is what damages the tree. The ambrosial fungus clogs the Xylem, a vascular tissue that transfers water and nutrients from the roots of the tree to the trunk and canopy. Once clogged the tree will not receive the nutrients and water it needs to survive and will ultimately die.
Ambrosia Beetles Target: Weak trees stressed by soil compaction, drought, extreme temperatures, other insects, diseases, construction damage, etc.
Symptoms & Signs of Ambrosia Beetles:
Flagging & dieback of entire branches
Sawdust looking material at the base of the tree (frass)
Strands of frass or boring dust, resembling fine pencil lead, protruding from tiny holes in the bark
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How To Prevent Ambrosia Beetles:
Since Ambrosia Beetles do not feed on the host tree, insecticide treatments are not effective. The most reliable method to beat Ambrosia Beetles is to focus on prevention.
Maintain A Healthy Tree:
Native species of Ambrosia Beetles typically only attack weakened, dying, or dead trees. One way to prevent your tree from becoming a target is to keep it healthy. The best ways to do that is through routine maintenance and inspection including proper mulching, fertilizing, watering, and seasonal treatments.
Mulching: Mulching is an easy and cost-effective way to keep your tree healthy. Mulching helps retain soil moisture, insulates a tree’s roots from the heat, and promotes the development of organic matter. Don’t Make These 5 Mulching Mistakes
Fertilizing: Fertilizing with organic bio-stimulants will re-establish good soil composition, strengthen your tree’s immune system, and act as a multi-vitamin for your tree. Make sure not to use mainstream fertilizers with high nitrogen levels. These store-bought fertilizers can stress mature trees and do more harm than good. Learn More About Fertilization
Watering: In summer, trees and shrubs are faced with high temperatures. Keep them hydrated by watering once a week. To Water: put your hose on a dribble, place it in the critical root zone & leave it for 2-3 hours. Repeat 2-3 times in different places within the critical root zone. Read Our Watering Tips
On top of proper health care, homeowners that have mature trees on their property should invest in preventive borer sprays. These bark sprays will not only prevent Ambrosia Beetles but also other borers that are common in the area.
Remove Infested Trees:
Once your tree has been infested by Ambrosia Beetles, our arborist advise that removing the tree is the best option. By removing the tree and infestation from your property you can help stop the spread of Ambrosia Beetles to other weakened trees on your property.