"Tree-Killing Bug Invades Southern California, With No Answer in Sight"

"Akif Eskalen steps through the dense, damp leaves in a wooded neighborhood, scrutinizing the branches around him. He's looking for evidence of an attack: tiny wounds piercing the bark and sap dried around them like bloodstains.

The victims are box elders, sycamores and coast live oaks, all in some state of suffering. Eskalen approaches a tree riddled with 1-millimeter holes, as if someone used it for miniature target practice. It's time to nab a perp. He selects a hole, pulls out a large knife and expertly levers out a chunk of wood.

There, in his hand, is a glossy beetle no larger than a sesame seed: the polyphagous shot hole borer."

Amina Khan reports for the Los Angeles Times June 5, 2014.

Friday, June 6, 2014