City forced to cut down infected plane tree
THE pernicious polyphagous shot hole borer has infested a Hyde Park plane tree so badly it’s been cut down.
As a result of the killer bug’s discovery, the iconic treeline of adjacent Mary Street is being closely monitored for fear of spread.
Less than a year ago the tiny 2mm exotic insect was spotted in five Hyde Park trees.
They chew into trees to make little farms to grow their food, a fungus called fusarium which causes dieback and tree death in suscectible species.
Hyde Park is a haven of high risk trees like planes, oaks and jacarandas. The trees initially infested had to be severely pruned in efforts to stop the spread, and now one plane tree has had to be cut down entirely.
Vincent mayor Emma Cole said at the February 14 council meeting “we have had the unfortunate situation where the shot hole borer has made it to Vincent”, hitting Hyde Park particularly hard.
“We have been working really closely with [the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development] on that matter.
“We’ve been trying to get communications out to our residents about what to look for, which exotic species in particular are at risk, and we’ve also asked them to be very mindful of our trees of significance on Mary Street.
“There’s been some quite significant pruning of our exotic species at Hyde Park – the only way, unfortunately, to treat the shot-hole borer.” There’s no known effective chemical that treats them.
DPIRB is asking anyone who spots the tiny beetle call 9368 3080 or use the MyPestGuide phone app, likewise any sightings of its signature holes the size of a ballpoint pen that are sometimes surrounded by a “sugar volcano” of crystalised foam.
They’re also asking the public to report the locations of any box elder trees, a favourite hiding place of the borer, in order to create a map of these “sentinel trees” and monitor the beetle’s spread.
The borer has been active around the world, with the Californian Society for Ecological Restoration saying the borer has the ability to kill “hundreds of tree species” and is causing millions of dollars of damage.
by DAVID BELL