Polyphagous Shothole Borer

The Research

Polyphagous Shothole Borer

The Polyphagous Shothole Borer (PSHB) is an invasive insect that bores into wood and woody plants. The beetle was recently discovered in South Africa and poses a major threat to many indigenous and ornamental tree species throughout the country. The beetle is already widespread throughout South Africa, but efforts to slow its spread and contain outbreaks are critical for protecting South Africa’s exceptional biodiversity.

Please note that there are many species (likely more than 200 species) of wood boring beetles in South Africa. Therefore, most observations of damage are not actually caused by the PSHB, but a different beetle rather. Be cautious of claims that the PSHB is present in your area unless it has been confirmed by scientists at FABI.

Presence Confirmed in Cape Town

Colleagues at Stellenbosch University and the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute have confirmed the presence of the PSHB in Somerset West.
The beetle was confirmed as the PSHB after reports were made on March 8th, 2019.
Please see the following letter for more information about the confirmation (click to open pdf).


Avoid Misleading Information

Help us map the plants at risk in your neighborhood by adding observations of species in the iNaturalist projects linked below (click the maps). You can also help in a BIG way by checking the observed plants in your neighborhoods for symptoms of infection (see below).

(key plant species hosting PSHB outbreak)

(susceptible plant species not known as key drivers of outbreak)

iNaturalist Project

The iNaturalist application is a powerful tool to collect and monitor observations. Please view the FABI Document: ‘How to photograph for diagnosis’, join the below project on iNaturalist and add your observations.

Read more about reporting unhealthy plants here and find instructions for using the iNaturalist app are available here: ‘Getting Started’.

The City of Cape Town has developed an webpage for residents to make reports. More information is available at: Cape Town Invasives.

Another option to share observations is  The Nature Conservancy’s application: Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities.

Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities Tree Health Initiative

The Conservation Gateway is for the conservation practitioner, scientist and decision-maker. Here we share the best and most up-to-date information we use to inform our work at The Nature Conservancy.

Submit a Sample

Please note: do not send living beetles via the mail unless you have discussed it with us or someone at FABI.

Contact Us

Contact us to receive instructions and addresses for submitting samples. We will point you to the best sources of information and the most reliable scientists (FABI) for diagnostics.

Photo provided by Rudi Swart, Stellenbosch University