Quickly spreading fungus killing redbay trees in Florida

DAYTONA BEACH — Officials say a tree fungus known as laurel wilt is spreading across parts of Florida, killing hundreds of redbay trees.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports the fungus attacks quickly and kills the trees almost overnight.

The newspaper reports ambrosia beetles drill into redbay trees and the adult females inoculate them with fungi that multiply rapidly. The bugs feed on the rapidly spreading fungus, which block the tree's capillaries. That prevents water from getting into the tree's limbs, branches and leaves. The leaves change from green to brown.

Specialists say the only hope is for trees to be treated early enough with a fungicide that protects the roots and keeps the fungus from taking hold.

Officials say the fungus and beetles first appeared in Duval County in 2005.

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