The City of Cape Town on Wednesday said it had appointed teams to inspect trees in the Somerset West area for possible infestations of the polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) beetle

The city said it had removed and incinerated 156 trees infested with the PSHB since April 2019, when the pest was detected and reported to Cape Town’s invasive species unit (ISU).

Since then, an experienced invasive species removal team from the city had visited 361 sites across Cape Town to inspect trees that were suspected of being infested with the bug.

“We have found that 160 trees in Somerset West have been infested, of which 156 were chipped on site, carefully removed under cover of heavy duty plastic, and incinerated at appropriate sites,” said the city’s Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Marian Nieuwoudt.

She said the city was in the process of removing the remaining infested trees.

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“About 130 of the infested trees were removed from privately owned residential properties in the northern parts of Somerset West, and the rest from city-owned land, mainly road reserves and parks. At this stage, it seems that the pest is confined to this area only,” said Nieuwoudt.

The ISU had recently appointed a team of temporary workers through the expanded public works programme to assist with inspecting trees in and around the Somerset West area to record the extent and spread of the pest.

Nieuwoudt appealed to residents to allow the workers access to their properties so that they could inspect trees for possible infestations.

“The workers will be wearing dark green shirts, and must have an identification card with their name, photo, staff number, and city logo in their possession. We also encourage members of the public to be on the lookout for possible infestations on their properties. This beetle is extremely harmful and devastating,” she added.

Nieuwoudt said that while there were reports about infestations in other parts of Cape Town, these had turned out to be false alarms.

Residents were urged to call 0860 103 089 to report possible PSHB cases.

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Author: ANA Newswire