The redbay ambrosia beetle is, as the name suggests, a fungus-farming beetle. In its native habitat in Southeast Asia, it is a harmless and relatively rare member of the rain forest beetle community. After its introduction to the US in approximately 2002, it became apparent that the symbiotic fungus vectored by this beetle is highly lethal to North American trees from the family Lauraceae. Since then the beetle spread throughout the eastern seabord, spreading a new tree disease called laurel wilt, and essentially eliminating redbay (the most common lauraceous tree) from local forests. In 2011 the first small population was recorded in Miami-Dade county in the Southern-most tip of Florida. This is bad news, since this county is an important producer of avocado, another lauraceous tree, and also very susceptible to laurel wilt (Mayfield & Thomas, Florida DPI).
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