"Tree-Killing Beetle Is On A Death March Through Southern California’s Oaks"

"The tree was dead.

Ron Durbin, who trekked with a group into a rugged Santa Clarita canyon, quickly spotted nearby trees pockmarked with D-shaped “exit holes,” a deadly calling card.

This was the work of the goldspotted oak borer, explained Durbin, forestry division chief for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. And the discovery earlier this year alarmed those who know what this tiny beetle is capable of.

The insects’ presence in East Canyon, along with nearby Rice and Whitney canyons, puts them just 14 miles from the oak-rich Santa Monica Mountains. They were also recently detected in a new area of Silverado Canyon in eastern Orange County.

Durbin described the goldspotted oak borer as “just like a cancer.” It has spread across Southern California since its discovery in 2008 in San Diego County, where it has slaughtered more than 80,000 trees. “It’s metastasized,” he said. “It’s stage four.”"

Lila Seidman reports for the Los Angeles Times May 28, 2024.

Source: LA Times, 05/29/2024