UF/IFAS scientists might have just tracked down the right scents to help deter a beetle that’s been delivering disease and devastation to Florida avocado growers.
According to a recently published study, UF/IFAS researchers found when infected with the laurel wilt fungus, redbay trees (a close cousin to the avocado) emit methyl salicylate to repel redbay ambrosia beetles, the vector of the deadly pathogen.
The discovery comes as good news for avocado growers. Some fungicides are available, but they are expensive, said study co-author Xavier Martini, an Assistant Professor of Entomology at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy. Insecticides are not very efficient because beetles spend most of their time within the wood, he noted.