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Plant Health

Sirex noctilio (Sirex Woodwasp)


On February 19, 2005, a single sirex woodwasp, Sirex noctilio, was identified in a sample collected as part of the New York State Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey National Exotic Wood Borer and Bark Beetle Survey, by E. R. Hoebeke, Ph.D. (Cornell University). It was confirmed by the Systematic Entomology Laboratory in Beltsville, MD on February 23, 2005. This female woodwasp was collected on September 7, 2004, from a Lindgren funnel trap placed among "mixed hardwoods and pine" just inside a forest edge adjacent to a recreational field at Fulton, NY (Oswego County). The detection of a single female S. noctilio in a warehouse was previously reported in the United States on July 22, 2002. It was found at the Otis Elevator Co. in Bloomington, Indiana by Otis Elevator staff and was verified as S. noctilio by the Systematic Entomology Laboratory (SEL), Beltsville, MD on August 01, 2002. No other detections were made in the follow-up survey in that area. On November 11, 2003, S. noctilio was added to the APHIS Regulated Plant Pest List.

The sirex woodwasp is considered a secondary pest of trees in its native range. However, it is a major pest in exotic pine plantations in the Southern Hemisphere. Females carry a fungus, Amylostereum areolatum, that they deposit in trees when laying their eggs. This fungus and the mucus injected by the wasp rapidly weaken and kill host trees, and the developing larvae feed on the fungus. This pest is attracted to stressed trees that are often used to make solid wood packing material (SWPM). Since the life cycle can take a year or more, the insect is transported easily in pallets or other SWPM and not readily detected at a port.

Life Cycle

Sirex woodwasp attacks many species of pine trees, but seems particularly lethal to the Monterey pine and loblolly pine.

Symptoms of Sirex noctilio infestation include: 1) Tree crowns turning light green to yellow to reddish brown. 2) Beads of resin or streams of resin drip visible on the bark. These arise from round oviposition drills. 3) Larvae tunnel in the wood, and their galleries are packed with very fine frass. 4) Exit holes are approximately 3-8 mm diameter.

Sirex woodwasp is endemic to Europe, Asia, and northern Africa and has successfully established in Australia, New Zealand, South America, and South Africa. Based on its native range in Europe and Asia, it could establish in any climate zone of North America where pine occurs.

Science Panel Reports

Pest Risk Analysis (PDF; 2.35 Mb)




Last Modified: September 10, 2008