Scientist uses fungus to destroy bark beetles

As Arizona and other US states face ongoing drought conditions, the region's pine forests are becoming more vulnerable to bark beetles, which attack and kill stressed trees, increasing wildfire danger. Northern Arizona University (NAU) researcher Rich Hofstetter is working with a fungus that kills the beetles.

"We have isolated particular strains and are testing to see whether these strains are effective against not only the mountain pine beetle, which is the most significant bark beetle in the West, but all the other bark beetles that we have in Arizona that are killing trees, as well as in the eastern United States."

Hofstetter is testing the fungus, Beauveria bassiana, on a bark beetle species affecting trees from Mexico to Canada. The fungus releases white powdery spores, Hofstetter said. When bark beetles crawl over them the fungus gets into their bodies and takes over.

"We are seeing 80 to 90 percent mortality with the spray," Hofstetter said.

Click here for source (NAU)

Photo: NAU