Deadly tree disease spotted in New Hanover - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Deadly tree disease spotted in New Hanover

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Tree infected with Laurel Wilt Tree infected with Laurel Wilt

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A beetle that can kill Redbay trees in a matter of months is spotted in New Hanover County for the first time.  It carries a type of fungus and was just found near the airport.

Members of the North Carolina Forest Service say the beetles can spread the fungus disease called Laurel Wilt quickly. They say once a Redbay tree is infected, there really isn't anything they can do to stop it from dying.

Officials say you can tell a Redbay tree sick because of the brown leaves, they say usually when trees die, they lose all of their leaves.  

The Redbay Ambrosia beetle, which carries the deadly fungus, first was first discovered in the U.S. in Georgia in 2002.  Since then, it's slowly been making its way north, in fact, New Hanover County is only the sixth county in the state where it has been spotted.

Because the disease spreads quickly, officials don't expect any Redbay trees near where it was spotted of Rt. 140 to still be alive in a year.

"Unfortunately, the Redbays in this area, it's a matter of time before they are dead, there is really nothing we can do to stop the spread of the disease, really all we can do is monitor it," said Bill Walker, with the NC Forest Service.

Walker says if you think that a Redbay tree in your yard is infected, do not move the wood from the tree, it will spread the disease, you should chop it up and either bury it or burn it.

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