Southern California Beetle Killing Oaks
U.S. Forest Service scientists have completed a study on a beetle that was first detected in California in 2004, but has now attacked 67 percent of the oak trees in an area 30 miles east of San Diego.
Their report appears in the current issue of The Pan-Pacific Entomologist and focuses on Agrilus coxalis, a wood-boring beetle so rare it does not even have an accepted common name. Scientists have proposed the Entomological Society of America common names committee call it the goldspotted oak borer.
Land managers and scientists are concerned about further spread of the infestation because oaks are the dominant tree species in the area. Further tree mortality will increase fire danger and decrease wildlife habitat in southern California.
They are also concerned drought and climate change will make more oaks susceptible to an insect that is not native to California. Oak trees have a nearly continuous distribution in the state, reaching from the infestation area north to the Oregon border.