Study: More beetles can carry disease killing avocado trees

FILE - This Dec. 15, 2014 photo shows avocados and limes, key ingredients for guacamole in Concord, N.H. A New York Times article Wednesday, July 1, urged readers to pair peas with guacamole, causing an outrage on Twitter. Even President Barack Obama joined the online cacophony, tweeting out: “respect the nyt, but not buying peas in guac.” (AP Photo/Matthew Mead, File)

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) – University of Florida researchers say they’ve found more beetles that can carry a disease threatening avocado trees.

The redbay ambrosia beetle considered the main carrier of laurel wilt is rare in avocado groves. But in a new study in the Journal of Economic Entomology, plant pathology professor Randy Ploetz said scientists found three more beetles that can carry the tree-killing disease.

Ploetz says the study shows that focusing on redbay ambrosia beetles may not save avocado trees from laurel wilt.

Jonathan Crane at the university’s Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead says avocado growers “have known for some time that other ambrosia beetle species” can spread disease in their groves.

Economists at the university’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences say avocadoes have a $100 million-a-year impact in South Florida.

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