Battle against the borer beetle hits up

The invasive polyphagous shothole borer beetle has been sighted in Somerset West. Picture: City of Cape Town.

The invasive polyphagous shothole borer beetle has been sighted in Somerset West. Picture: City of Cape Town.

Published Mar 15, 2024


Cape Town - The battle against the invasive polyphagous shothole borer beetle across the metro is gearing up, as the City calls for formal and informal businesses to sign up for free pest training.

At least 251 sightings of trees infested with the pest were reported in Newlands, Rondebosch, Mowbray, Claremont, Kenilworth, and Observatory along the Liesbeek River by February 29.

In the Helderberg, over 4 893 infested trees were sighted since 2019 to date.

The beetle, from Southeast Asia, is a tiny, invasive black beetle that is smaller than a sesame seed (2mm), and has caused destruction in and around the city.

According to Greenpop, a Cape Town-based environmental organisation, the beetle was first found in KwaZulu-Natal in 2017, and has since spread to the Garden Route and other parts of the Western Cape.

“The Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute team has confirmed the presence of the beetle in eight of the nine provinces in South Africa.

“The beetle is considered a great threat to the indigenous trees of South Africa.”

Since being spotted in Somerset West, the beetle has destroyed thousands of trees.

It was reported that in 2019, the cost of removing an infested tree amounted to more than R7 000.

The City said the beetle posed a serious threat to Cape Town’s urban forest, as infested trees had to be chipped.

It said the use of pesticides and fungicides has not proven effective at eradicating the beetle.

“We need the support and collaboration of residents and businesses working with plant material to prevent the spread of the pest.

“The City will again be hosting free training sessions for professionals handling infested plant material as well as for residents. All are encouraged to attend these sessions.”

It said the beetle can easily spread across suburbs if extra precaution is not taken.

Apart from infected wood, the beetle can also spread through clothing, vehicle crevices, or unclean horticultural equipment.

The details of the training sessions are as follows:

Tuesday, March 19, from 9.30am to noon at the Zandvlei Lookout, Promenade Road, Muizenberg.

Wednesday, March 20, from 9.30am to noon at the Leibrandt van Niekerk Hall, South Road, Table View.

RSVP by sending an email to [email protected] and indicate how many people will be attending and at which venue.

“We are also encouraging residents to attend any of these free training sessions, especially if you have trees on your private property.

“The knowledge is useful and will empower property owners to take care of their gardens in a safe and responsible manner,” said deputy mayor and spatial planning mayco member, Eddie Andrews.

[email protected]

Cape Argus