Don't freak out, but 9 Florida beetle species carry a fungus deadly to avocados

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Sorry, guacamole lovers. Scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in Gainesville say that nine different beetle species carry the laurel wilt pathogen, which can kill avocado trees.

First they found the redbay ambrosia beetle carried spores of the fungus that causes laurel wilt, but that insect is rare in avocado groves. However, they determined that six other ambrosia beetle species could transmit the laurel wilt pathogen. Then a subsequent study found three more species that also carry the spores. The new study is published in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

Daniel Carrillo, an entomology assistant professor and colleague of Ploetz’s at the Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida, found over 14 different ambrosia beetles may infest avocado trees, and he is studying these beetles to identify key players in the spread of this disease and working on ways to control them.

UF/IFAS economists have estimated avocados bring a $100 million-a-year economic impact to South Florida. More importantly, they are the only reason to continue setting foot in Chipotle.

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