Development of Push-pull System for Ambrosia Beetles, Vectors of Laurel Wilt Disease in Florida Avocado

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2020: $11,564.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2023
Grant Recipient: University of Florida
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Xavier Martini
University of Florida


  • Fruits: avocados


  • Pest Management: chemical control, cultural control, integrated pest management, traps

    Proposal abstract:

    The Redbay ambrosia beetle, Xyleborus glabratus, is a major ecological pest of laurel trees causing widespread tree death by vectoring laurel wilt caused by the fungal pathogen Raffaelea lauricola. Laurel wilt also leads to considerable tree loss in avocado groves in south Florida by secondary vectors. Growers are facing increasing challenges in controlling ambrosia beetle populations in the southeastern region as they have become increasingly unpredictable, and it is difficult to prevent visitation and attack in host trees. To develop a more effective and sustainable integrated pest management program, alternative methods for ambrosia beetle control are being explored.

    Chemical and visual stimuli play a dominant role in host searching behavior, and the implementation of visual traps that display attractive wavelengths shows great potential in reducing X. glabratus infestations. In addition, many natural repellents including verbenone can reduce ambrosia beetle visitation and mask attractive stress-related volatiles produced by laurel trees. Preliminary studies have shown that verbenone acts as a successful repellent of ambrosia beetles. However, little research has been done to investigate the efficacy of verbenone in combination with attractive visual and chemical lures as part of a complete IPM system.

    This study will highlight the potential for implementing a “push/pull” system utilizing a combination of verbenone as a repellent (“push”) with attractive visual and chemical lures (“pull”) to reduce ambrosia beetle visitation in susceptible trees. This system will be the first organized management program to protect avocado trees from laurel wilt.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Determine effects of trap placement on efficacy of attractive visual and chemical traps.
    2. Determine effects of complete “push-pull” strategy by combining the natural repellent verbenone (“push”) with the attractive visual and chemical traps (“pull”) compared to the traps alone.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.