EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 09 - 2003 Num. article: 2003/140

Introduction of Phoracantha recurva in the Mediterranean region: addition to the EPPO Alert List

Phoracantha recurva (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) is a eucalyptus pest originating from Australia, which has recently been introduced into Spain. There are also unconfirmed reports from other Mediterranean countries, as well as fairly recent introduction records in different parts of the world. Considering past experience with a similar species P. semipunctata (formerly listed as a quarantine pest), the EPPO Secretariat felt that P. recurva should be added to the EPPO Alert List.

Phoracantha recurva (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae)
Why: Phoracantha recurva, a eucalyptus pest originating from Australia, has recently been introduced into Europe and other parts of the world. P. recurva is very similar to P. semipunctata which was previously listed as a quarantine pest.

Where: EPPO region: It was first reported in 1998 in Ceuta (Spain) and shortly after it was discovered in Andalucía (Sevilla, Cádiz) and in the province of Madrid. There is also one record of P. recurva in Greece (at least one specimen was collected on dying Eucalyptus in Preveza, west of mainland Greece). P. recurva is probably also present in Morocco (considering its presence in Ceuta, and the title of a publication from Haddan & Lieutier, 2002). More information is needed on the situation of the pest in Greece and Morocco.
Africa: Malawi, South Africa, Zambia.
North America: USA (California). It was first found in California in 1995, where it tends to displace P. semipunctata.
South America: Argentina (first found in 1997), Brazil (in 2001, in the State of São Paulo), Chile (in 1997), Uruguay (in 1998).
Oceania: Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea.

On which plants :Eucalyptus species (e.g. E. camaldulensis, E. cloeziana, E. citriodora, E. intermedia, E. maculata, E. melliodora, E. nova-anglica, E. ovata).

Damage: Holes in the bark and stains or oozing liquid on limbs or trunks are common symptoms of infestation by P. recurva. The insect is mainly attracted to freshly cut wood, dying limbs, and trees suffering from water stress. Pale yellow eggs are laid in groups, under loose bark of eucalyptus trees. Larvae develops within the trunk and main branches, feeding under the bark and making irregular galleries (up to 1.5 m long). Galleries can girdle the tree which may then die. In some cases, tree death can occur within a few weeks time. Pupation takes place in a pupal chamber. Adults are very similar to P. semipunctata (14-30 mm long) but there are differences in elytra colour, hairs and spines on antennae. In P. recurva, elytra are mostly yellow. A picture of an adult can be viewed on Internet (http://www.uochb.cas.cz/~natur/cerambyx/phoracrecurva.htm). In California, it is estimated that P. recurva has killed approximately 30,000 eucalyptus trees in Los Angeles county.

Dissemination: Adults can fly. Over long distances, trade of infested eucalyptus plants and particularly wood can disseminate the pest. It is suspected that both P. semipunctata and P. recurva entered South Africa in freshly-cut railway sleepers imported from Australia.

Pathway: Plants for planting, wood of eucalyptus from countries where P. recurva occurs.

Possible risks: Eucalyptus are grown for forestry and amenity purposes in the EPPO region, particularly around the Mediterranean Basin (e.g. in Spain, about 400,000 ha are producing 3,600,000 m3 of wood). Chemical control is not suitable for the management of eucalyptus borers. Control is essentially based on good cultural practices to avoid tree stress and on biological control. The establishment of P. recurva in some parts of the EPPO region and its similarity with P. semipunctata indicates that it has the potential to establish in most eucalyptus-growing areas in Europe and to cause serious damage. Past experience with P. semipunctata also demonstrated that this type of insect is very easily moved unnoticed via wood trade, and that precautions should be taken to prevent any further spread.

EPPO RS 2003/140
Panel review date        -        Entry date 2003-09


Barranco, P.; Ruíz, J.L. (2003) Aportaciones sobre el taladro amarillo de los eucaliptos, Phoracantha recurva Newman, 1840. Phytoma España, no. 147, 43-48.
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Université d’Orléans (FR). Haddan, M.; Lieutier, F. (2002) Comparaison de l’abondance, du cycle biologique et des préférences de ponte de Phoracantha semipunctata L. et P. recurva Newman, deux ravageurs des Eucalyptus au Maroc. Paper presented at the 1st Symposium on ‘Entomological Research in Mediterranean Forest Ecosystems’. Rabat (MA), 2002-05-06/11. http://www.univ-orleans.fr/SCIENCES/LBL/communications.htm