Avocado growers may soon have a new tool against the Redbay Ambrosia Beetle


Avocado growers have been battling laurel wilt fungus, a disease that kills both avocado trees and redbay trees, for over a decade. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) researchers believe they have found a way to repel the beetle, according to a UF/IFAS release. Read what the release shared about the new repellent below.


Ambrosia Beetle Background


Laurel Wilt has been in the crosshairs of Florida avocado growers since it was detected in Georgia in 2003. The fungus is transmitted to both avocado trees and redbay trees by the Redbay Ambrosia Beetle when the beetles bore their way into the wood of the trees. This makes it difficult to kill the beetles with insecticides as they spend the majority of their time within the wood.


Redbay trees are a “close cousin to the avocado,” according to the UF/IFAS release. Redbay trees emit a chemical when infected by the fungus that causes laurel wilt. That chemical, methyl salicylate, works to repel the Redbay Ambrosia Beetle.


Redbay Ambrosia Beetle Repellent


Researchers conducted a study to see how well methyl salicylate repelled the beetle, testing three different repellent mixtures on redbay trees. They found that two mixtures—verbenone and verbenone plus methyl salicylate—worked the best. Using sticky traps and examining the holes the beetles bore into the tree, researchers found the repellents reduced the number of beetles in the traps by 95 percent and the number of beetle holes by 90 percent.


The findings are positive both because methyl salicylate is less expensive than verbenone and because methyl salicylate is insecticide-free, making it an eco-friendly, sustainable option. Researchers maintain that avocado trees within a grove can be treated with methyl salicylate to repel Redbay Ambrosia Beetle while lures can be placed outside of the groves to attract the beetles into traps.


Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.