A tree disease called laurel wilt is killing trees across the Houston area and so far scientists have been unable to find a cure. The tree disease is spread from touching tree roots, but the biggest catalyst igniting the spread of Laurel Wilt is the red bay ambrosia beetle.

These tiny black beetles have a symbiotic relationship with the fungus caused by laurel wilt, laying eggs in the tree bark and then feasting on the fungus caused by laurel wilt once the tree dies. Trees typically die within a year once infected, and without a cure the spread of the disease has area plant pathologists on high alert for a potential epidemic.

While fungicide injection treatment has been used to slow down the disease in some cases, scientists from Texas A&M’s Forest Service are working diligently to find a cure. Until then, the best options are to remove and destroy the trees to stop the spread of laurel wilt or slow it down with fungicide treatment.

Trees Vulnerable to Laurel Wilt

  • Redbay Trees
  • Sassafras
  • Cherry Laurel
  • Spicebush
  • California laurel
  • Bay Laurel
  • Texas Lilac Vitex Chaste
  • Texas Mountain Laurel

Tree species that are susceptible to the red bay ambrosia beetles, aka Southeast Asian Ambrosia Beetle, are a variety of shade trees in the Lauraceae family. Redbay trees are primarily affected but they can also infest Sassafras trees, swampbush trees, spicebush, California laurel, Texas Mountain Laurel, Lilac Vitex, and Cherry Laurel. These trees are popular in the Houston and East Texas area as well as Katy. Laurel wilt has also been observed among commercial avocado plants in Florida but fortunately as of yet, not among Texas avocado trees.

Laurel wilt is a tree disease from Asia and was first detected in the United States in 2002 but wasn’t discovered in Texas until 2013.

Suspect a Laurel Wilt Infestation?

If you notice any signs of a laurel wilt infestation such as yellowing leaves, tiny black beetles on your trees, or sawdust on your tree’s bark call our ISA Certified Arborist (License #TX-3361A).

Cody’s Tree Service is owned and operated by Cody Geiman, an Arborist, TRAQ Certified Tree Risk Assessment Expert by the ISA, and a Certified Oak Wilt Specialist with 25 years of experience treating and diagnosing tree diseases in West Houston, Fulshear, Cypress and Katy, Texas.

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