The PSHB takes FABI researchers to Somerset West 2021-05-06
Several years after the first discovery of the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB) Euwallacea fornicatus infesting London plane trees in the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden, Pietermaritzburg, the PSHB still poses a serious threat to agriculture, forestry and natural forests in South Africa. The discovery of the PSHB in Somerset West raised several red flags and several governmental as well as research projects arose from this discovery.
FABI Field extension officer Shawn Fell, joined by PhD candidate Josephine Queffelec and field extension intern Jabulile Mahlangu travelled to Somerset West during the week of 26 April. The objective of the field visit was to meet up with Professor Francois Roets from the University of Stellenbosch, to collect PSHB-infested samples for various on-going experiments. The visit also allowed for the discussion of various PSHB-related problems and projects.
On Wednesday 28 April, the team met up with collaborators from the University of Stellenbosch and members of the Western Cape Environmental Management Departments’ Invasive Species Department. This was followed by the felling of a dead PSHB-infested Oak tree, from which several samples were collected for research purposes and the remainder of the infested wood chipped and moved to a designated burning site. Several wood samples were transported back to FABI under strictly controlled conditions so as not to aid the spread of the PSHB. The collection of these samples will bring valuable insight into the possible management of the PSHB.
The team would like to thank Prof. Francois Roets (University of Stellenbosch), Altus de Wet, Phumudzo Ramabulana and Tirhani Rikhotso (Western Cape Environmental Management Departments’ Invasive Species Department) and Agri-Tree Services for their assistance with the identification and removal of the infested tree.