The City of Cape Town has issued a warning about the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer beetle (PSHB) which is spreading rapidly. Within a month, the City has recorded 128 sightings of the beetle in the Southern Suburbs. The PSHB was first found outside of Somerset West on January 24, 2023, and has since been sighted in various areas, including Newlands, Rondebosch, Mowbray, Claremont, Observatory, Kenilworth, Rosebank, and Wynberg.

Residents, nursery owners, and landscapers are advised to be on the lookout for symptoms of infestation. The beetle, which is only 2mm in size, can cause significant damage and can spread through contaminated clothing, vehicle crevices, or unclean horticultural equipment. The City of Cape Town has recommended a list of 28 trees for residents who want to replace trees on their properties that have been affected by the PSHB. These trees are mostly indigenous and are not reproductive host trees.

Signs and symptoms of trees infested with the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer Beetle:

  • Cracks on branches, 
  • Discolored leaves, 
  • Dry and leafless branches, 
  • Branch break-off revealing webs filled with black fungus, 
  • Gooey blobs coming out of the bark, oozing of liquid and gum from the beetle holes, 
  • Entry and exit holes very small holes on the bark of the tree, the size of a sesame seed (2mm), shotgun-like scars developing around the holes, and 
  • Brown or dark stains on the bark of the tree.

What to do when you spot signs of the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer Beetle:

  • Chip the tree, place the infested material in refuse bags, seal the bags, and leave them in direct sunlight for at least six weeks. 
  • Dump the chips in your compost heaps, as the heat buildup will kill the beetle. You can also burn infected wood at appropriate incineration facilities or seek assistance from trained service providers with sound knowledge of PSHB beetles. 
  • It is important not to transport any form of green waste in open vehicles, but to cover it with sail covers, even if no PSHB beetles have been identified in such green waste. 
  • Finally, it is essential to clean the tools and equipment used to trim, cut, or prune plants to prevent the spread of the beetle.

CONTACT US today for more advice regarding Shot Hole Borer Beetle infestations and treatments.