Monday, April 20, 2015

New pine beetle discovered in Central America: Mesoamerican pine beetle

Called the Mesoamerican pine beetle (Dendroctonus mesoamericanus), it is in the same genus as southern pine beetle, a destructive bark beetle that attacks several species of pine.  After suspecting the existence of a new species of bark beetle in 2002, subsequent pheromone and body wax chemistry definitively proved the new species.  In fact, the Mesoamerican pine beetle don't response to pheromone traps baited for southern pine beetle.

southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) by Erich G. Vallery, USDA Forest Service - SRS-4552,

The Mesoamerican pine beetle looks very similar to the southern pine beetle, but, in addition to the chemical differences, the Mesoamerican pine beetle tends to be larger and has other subtle morphological differences, the resinous pitch tubes on infested trees are also larger, they tend to infest the trees after they have already been colonized by southern pine beetles, and they are found in the lower trunk and branches.  They have been found on eight species of pines in Central America and are believed to work in concert with southern pine beetles.  The combination of beetles on infested trees tends to be more destructive than those infested by southern pine beetle alone.

southern pine beetle pitch tubes by Erich G. Vallery, USDA Forest Service - SRS-4552,

For more on the discovery: New Mesoamerican pine beetle described by scientists
To access the original publication: A New Species of Bark Beetle, Dendroctonus mesoamericanus
sp. nov. (Curculionidae: Scolytinae), in Southern Mexico and Central America