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South African Journal of Science


AOSIS OpenJournals

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In February 2005, the exotic bark beetle, Scolytus kirschii (Curculionidae: Scolytinae), was detected infesting English elms (Ulmus procera) in Stellenbosch, South Africa. This appears to be the first report of an infestation of Scolytus species in this country. The presence of this beetle is of concern for several reasons. Scolytus kirschii is a serious pest of elms, capable of killing healthy trees, resulting in considerable economic impact. There also exists the possibility that the beetle may undergo a host switch to indigenous trees, with potentially serious ecological consequences. Furthermore, the beetle is capable of being the vector of the pathogens responsible for Dutch elm disease (DED), Ophiostoma ulmi and Ophiostoma novo-ulmi. None of the trees that we inspected in Stellenbosch exhibited symptoms or signs of DED. Isolations from infested host material likewise failed to detect these pathogens. Nonetheless, the damage to the trees by the beetles alone was sufficient to cause tree death. Future directions for research and management of the beetle in its new environment are discussed.


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