PANDANUS TREE INFESTATIONS

I continue to receive inquiries regarding infection and sometimes the demise of a number of pandanus trees along the coastal strip. The pandanus is symbolic of our region and together with the sheoaks they form a significant part of our foreshore amenity.

I’m taking the liberty of pasting below a copy of a letter which was sent to a local resident to answer his inquiries and which may be of interest to others who have similar concerns. (Please note that the photos above aren’t from our area but were downloaded off the ‘net.)

I have been asked to respond to your concerns raised with Cr Greg Barnes about Pandanus tree dieback.

Councils across Southern Queensland and northern New South Wales have been dealing with this problem for several years. The dieback is caused by an infestation of a kind of insect called Jamella.  The planthopper insects eat the new growing shoots of the Pandanus trees and lay their eggs in leaves. The new larvae suck the sap from the leaves and leave a sticky residue that encourages infestation of fungus and moulds.   Without treatment, the Pandanus trees will die.  

Jamella insects occurs naturally in northern Queensland, but are controlled by a natural predatory wasp.  It is believed that they were transported to southern Queensland in pot plants and have already decimated thousands of Pandanus trees.

In the long term, the best way to save these trees is to introduce the natural predatory wasp.  This has worked very well on the Sunshine Coast.  Bundaberg Regional Council has commenced a program to monitor the numbers of insects on Pandanus trees and spread the wasp until it becomes established.  I have already released some of these wasps in Miller St.

As a short term solution, Council has treated some trees in “high profile” areas at Bargara with a systemic herbicide.  This is injected into the stem of the trees and kills most of the insects for a short time.  The trees near your property have been treated on two occasions in the last 5 years.  Unfortunately this method of treatment can itself weaken the tree by creating a wound point and entry for disease.

I hope this clarifies the situation.  Please contact me if you have any further questions.

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