Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Don't panic, but beetles are invading" from

The Stuart News dated 2/5/2009 presents the above-referenced title within its 'St. Lucie County' section, where "...Anita S. Neal, director and horticulture agent at the St. Lucie County Cooperative Extension Service..." advises against panic when facing the symptoms of 'laurel wilt disease'.

"Laurel wilt disease is caused by a fungus transmitted by the redbay ambrosia beetle, an Asian native thought to have arrived in the United States in 2002 in wood products. Symptoms include wilted stems and leaves, black streaking in the wood and compacted sawdust protruding from the trunks. ...".

An avocado plant set outside months ago here in Kcc appears to have most of those symptoms listed -- the wilted stems and leaves, and the black streaking in the yet-green stem becoming woody. However, if a fungus is the culprint, in all fairness it should be added that the approximately three-foot-tall plant has been rooted in standing rainwater intermittantly during past months, double-potted in a traditional clay pot together with a 'Made in China' tublike container that resembles styrofoam and has a stamped drainage-hole area on the bottom which must be cut with a knife to ensure actual drainage. Feeling smart after the tub's purchase, I simply scored the drainage 'stamp' hoping that a trickle-out would be appropriate.

However, it can easily be seen that the plant just could not withstand the amount of water pooled around its root system -- it has wilted, the leaves are withered and falling-off, and the stem is streaked as if implanted with perhaps a fungus that might stabilize the cellulose composition. As a tenant in San Francisco, CA, a similar type of symbiosis was observed among tall but destabilized redwoods enduring constant traffic flow -- tough-stemmed ivy vines grow skyward up and along the trunks of such trees as if engaged to prop them upon pre-existing root systems that were often very shallow although the trunks can be several feet in diameter.

So, okay, I saw an unusual new beetle on the Evans Crary Bridge today, but why panic?

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