Carob trees have been dying as a result of a beetle which has been found in Manikata, Armier and Fontana, among other localities, the Plant Health Directorate said this evening.
It said it had received various reports of carob trees dying in a very short time. The symptoms are drying leaves sometimes even to the point where the tree sheds all its leaves. Resin and round exit holes from where the beetle exits were sometimes also observed.
This beetle, Apate monachus (Fabricius 1775) originated in tropical Africa, moving North to the Mediterranean including France and Spain.
The directorate said that so far, the only method for controlling this beetle is by cutting and burning the infected parts of the trees. However approval from Mepa needs to be obtained before any carob trees can be pruned or felled.
The directorate said it is working to gather more information about the pest and its presence in Malta. An action plan has been prepared to control its spread.
Anyone noting symptoms on carobs or on any other trees was requested to contact the Plant Health Directorate on 22927103 or 22927113 or by sending an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.