The Rutherford Report: Invasive Beetle Spotted in Local Mountains

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“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”

—C.S. Lewis
Invasive Beetle Spotted in Local Mountains

An invasive beetle that has killed thousands of oak trees in San Diego County was recently discovered in Sugar Loaf, and now forest officials are asking mountain residents and visitors to be on the lookout for signs of the pest.

A San Bernardino County Fire Hazard Officer spotted signs of goldspotted oak borer (GSOB) infestation in dying California black oaks during a routine hazard inspection on private property. It is the second reported GSOB infestation in the San Bernardino National Forest. The first was in Idyllwild in 2012.

The beetles likely came from infested firewood transported to the mountains from San Diego County where the pest has become endemic.

The U.S. Forest Service urges San Bernardino County National Forest visitors not to use firewood that is not purchased locally to prevent the spread of the GSOB.

The beetles’ larvae bore under the bark of Coast live oaks, Canyon live oaks, and California black oaks and eventually starve the trees of nutrients and water, causing crown thinning, bark staining, and death.

CAL FIRE, the San Bernardino National Forest, and other collaborating agencies are developing a GSOB response plan for the mountaintop communities, including assessing the extent of the infestation and how to respond.

Residents and visitors can do their part by keeping an eye out for possible GSOB infestations. The University of California Cooperative Extension hosts a webpage where people can submit photos and other details about possible infestations. Click here to access the page, which includes a link to a field guide to help novice entomologists correctly identify the pest.

Crown thinning and wet staining or dark red bleeding on the bark are the two primary signs that a tree is infested with the beetle, which grows to about half an inch long.
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