Tiny but seemingly invincible beetle has killed thousands of trees across SA, millions more at risk

A 300-year-old English oak tree is removed in Helderberg in June 2022.Cape Town deputy mayor and the mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, Eddie Andrews, said 5,243 trees have been infested by the polyphagous shot hole borer beetle across Cape Town – 4,961 of which have been sighted in the Helderberg area since 2019. (Photos: Paul Barker)

Kristin Engel – 1 April 2024

Thousands of urban trees have already been killed and removed as an infestation of the polyphagous shot hole borer beetle, also known as the tree-killing beetle, in the country continues to spread, with 65 million urban trees at risk of dying in cities over the next three decades, unless the situation is controlled.

Since 2017, when the first report was received in South Africa of the polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB), thousands of trees have died or had to be cut down in urban areas, native forests and more recently in fruit crops…