Redbay ambrosia beetle was introduced into the United States from
Asia in 2002, most likely in solid wood packing materials, such as
crates and pallets. By 2005, it was found to be consistently associated
with mortality in an expanded area of coastal South Carolina and
Georgia. The range of redbay ambrosia beetle and associated redbay
mortality continues to expand in Florida and coastal areas across the
Southeast. Potential hosts include all members of the Lauraceae
family such as Asian spicebush, yellow litsea, redbay, and sassafras.
The threatened and endangered species: pondspice and pondberry are
of partiticular concern. The larvae are typical of scolytid beetles and
are white, c-shaped, legless grubs with an amber colored head capsule.
Adults are minute (1/16 inch), slender, and brown-black in color.
Upon emergence, only the females seek a new host. Not much is
known about this beetle’s life cycle, but it is assumed to be similar to
other Xyleborus beetles. Adults tend to attack weakened or recently
killed hosts. Attacks are evident by pinhole-sized holes in the bark
associated with either pitch flow or light-colored boring dust.
Investigation under the bark often reveals galleries. As with other
ambrosia beetles, the beetle transmits laurel wilt (Raffaelea lauricola)
which serves as a food source for the beetle and also causes infected
plants to rapidly wilt and die.