Native and Indigenous Biocontrols for Ailanthus altissima
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Ailanthus altissima is one of the top invasive weed trees in North America. Native and indigenous biocontrols consisting of insects and fungi were found in a unique series of interactions in Maryland and Pennsylvania. The insects are Aculops ailanthii, an eriophyoid mite and Atteva punctella, the Ailanthus web worm. Mimosa wilt, Fusarium oxysporum, isolated from a mimosa tree, Albizia julibrissin, was successful in the laboratory through two generations testing Koch's postulates on Ailanthus seedlings. Atteva punctella selectively feeds on male trees. Fusarium lateritium and/or Fusarium solani may be sterilizing female trees through necrotic lesions, allowing herbivory on the sterilized female trees by Atteva punctella. The carriers appear to be Atteva punctella and Ambrosia beetles (Schall, 2007). Aculops ailanthii was found in the field and brought back into the lab for a successful test of Koch's postulates on seedlings. Using partial biocontrol, control of Ailanthus appears to be possible.