Research Features

The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB) and its fungus in South Africa

FABI information pamphlets on the PSHB

PSHB - Information sheet   PSHB - Life stages of the beetle   PSHB - Symptoms

PSHB - External symptom types   PSHB - How to photograph for diagnosis   PSHB - How to sample

PSHB in the news

Californian information pamphlets - Californian host tree list


As a participant in the International Plant Sentinel Network (IPSN), Dr Trudy Paap had been tasked to conduct surveys for tree pests and diseases in South Africa's Botanical Gardens, a project funded by the South Arican Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). It was during such a survey that she noticed small lesions resembling shotgun marks on the stems and branches of mature London plane trees (Platanus x acerifolia) in the historical avenue of the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Gardens, Pietermaritzburg. Upon closer inspection, she found that the lesions developed around entrance holes of small beetles. When she removed the bark, the sapwood was discoloured by a fungus. She brought samples back to FABI, and with the assistance of FABI team members, the beetle and fungus were identified based on DNA sequences as Euwallacea fornicatus (Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer or PSHB) and Fusarium euwallaceae, respectively. The results were published in the Australasian Journal of Plant Pathology (Paap et al. 2018).


Further studies and surveys have shown that there are a number of other tree species affected as well.


Click here to read more about Euwallacea fornicatus (Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer or PSHB) and Fusarium euwallaceae on Research Matters to find out how this is affecting South Africa’s forests.


Click here to read more about how Fusarium euwallaceae kills trees on Research Matters and what FABI researchers are doing about it to try to curb the spread.


The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer can have a potential cost for commercial farmers as well, which is explained further with a short video which explains what we can do to help our trees against this damaging invasive pest.


De Beer ZW. (2018) A tiny beetle and its deadly fungus is threatening South Africa’s trees. The Conversation (27 February) PDF

De Beer ZW, Paap T. (2018) The spread of shothole borer beetles in South Africa is proving tough to control. The Conversation

Gomez DF, Skelton J, Steininger MS, Stouthamer R, Rugman-Jones P, Sittichaya W, Rabaglia RJ, Hulcr J. (2018) Species delineation within the Euwallacea fornicatus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) complex revealed by morphometric and phylogenetic analyses. Insect Systematics and Diversity 2(6):1-11. 10.1093/isd/ixy018 PDF

Paap T, de Beer ZW, Migliorini D, Nel W, Wingfield MJ. (2018) The polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) and its fungal symbiont Fusarium euwallaceae: a new invasion in South Africa. Australasian Plant Pathology 47(2):231-237. 10.1007/s13313-018-0545-0 PDF

Van den Berg N, Du Toit M, Morgan SW, Fourie G, De Beer ZW. (2019) First Report of Fusarium euwallaceae on Persea americana in South Africa. Plant Disease 10.1094/PDIS-10-18-1818-PDN