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Woodwasp threatens Soutpansberg pine industry

The Sirex woodwasp has invaded Limpopo's Soutpansberg region, posing a real risk to commercial pine trees, Zoutnet reports. Dries Alberts of the local pest and disease council said that Soutpansberg foresters lived for years under the threat that the Sirex woodwasp is approaching the Limpopo.

"[The Forestry and Agriculture Biotechnology Institute] FABI has discovered a few occurrences and foresters in our area [will] intensify their monitoring," he said.

According to Institute for Commercial Forestry Research (ICFR), Sirex first appeared in the Western Cape in 1994, it had then spread along the southern Cape and into the Eastern Cape by 2002 and high pine-tree mortality occurred in Kwa-Zulu Natal during 2004. The woodwasp then started moving towards Mpumalanga and Limpopo, placing around 280 000 hectares of pine plantation timber at risk.

The male Sirex Noctilio wasp is between 13mm and 32mm in length and has a metallic blue head and thorax and an orange abdomen. It is a species of horntail and has the ability to attack a variety of pine trees, but trees that are under stress are more susceptible. Pine trees that have been attacked could die within three to six months, Zoutnet says. According to Dries Alberts, FABI will provide local pine foresters with a managing programme to either exterminate the woodwasp or manage it.

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