Scouting for eucalyptus pests on the Cape Peninsula 2019-01-26
Eucalyptus spp. have been planted extensively in many parts of the Western Cape Province going back some hundreds of years. Most of these trees can be found in gardens, on farm lands and at roadsides. In addition to providing shade (and in years past a source of timber) an important role of these trees is to provide forage (flowers) for bees. And these bees provide crucially important ecosystem services as pollinators of fruit trees that form the basis of one of South Africa’s most valuable industries. There is growing evidence that many of these trees are declining due to repeated infestations of insect pests and fungal pathogens. And that this could threaten the future of the fruit industry. In a first step towards understanding this problem, FABI Prof. Mike Wingfield undertook a preliminary survey of Eucalyptus trees in the greater Stellenbosch area, assisted by Dr. Mike Allsopp of the Agricultural Research Council, Plant Protection Research Institute. In a very short period of time, most of the major alien invasive pests affecting Eucalyptus forestry in South Africa were encountered, as were various leaf and shoot pathogens. These were associated with clear evidence of decline of trees, particularly Eucalyptus camaldulensis. The plan going forward is to undertake more intensive research towards understanding the problem and reducing the apparent threat to bee foraging and fruit tree health.