BREAKING: Deadly borer found in East Fremantle poses threat to agricultural sector and native forests

EXCLUSIVE: Australia’s biosecurity services are on high alert after an exotic shot hole borer was discovered at an East Fremantle property this week.

• The shot hole borer is no bigger than a sesame seed, but there’s often no treatment but to pull out a tree – roots and all – once it’s infected. Photo NSW Dept of Primary Industries.

It is the first time the South East Asian borer has been discovered in Australia, but it has left a trail of destruction in countries such as South Africa, California and Israel, where some avocado orchards have had to be destroyed.

Californian researchers Mary Lu Arpaia and David Obenhand visited an Israeli orchard five years after the borers became established and reported: “Severe limb dieback, many broken branches scattered on the orchard floor, dropped mature fruit and smaller than normal fruit size for the fruit remaining on the trees.”

That gives an indication of why federal and state authorities are so concerned about its potential impact on Australia’s agricultural sector and swarmed into East Fremantle when it was identified earlier this week.

The borer is known to attack a wide range of hardwood trees, including acacias, ficus, casuarinas and magnolias and there are concerns it could bore into WA’s native forests.

The borer itself is not the biggest problem – when it infests a tree it brings in the fusarium dieback fungus, which affects the host’s ability to circulate water and nutrients and causes stress, dieback and death in extreme cases.

• Damage to a tree infected with shot hole borer. Photo NSW Dept of Primary Industries.

Just to add to the WA Agriculture Department’s concerns, East Fremantle is in the middle of a green waste collection. Full story in this weekend’s Fremantle Herald.

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