STARKVILLE, Miss. -- It may have taken only one beetle and the fungus it carried to kill one-third of the nation’s redbay trees, according to scientists at Mississippi State University and the University of Florida.
Laurel wilt is a devastating disease of any tree or shrub species in the laurel family. The redbay ambrosia beetle, introduced from Asia into Georgia in 2002, carries the deadly fungus.
John Riggins, an MSU forest entomologist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said 300 million redbay trees have succumbed to the disease, and related shrubs and trees are susceptible.
Photo by Mississippi Entomological Museum/Joe A. MacGown