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Olive Tree Borer

Barrenillo olive tree plague

The olive tree borer (Phloeotribus scarabaeoides) is an insect that is present in most of the olive groves without becoming a pest, except in those olive groves near populations or farmhouses in which olive wood is stored under conditions that favour the reproduction of this small beetle.


The adult borer spends the winter in tunnels dug in the inserts of the leaves, fruits and small branches of the olive tree. At the end of the winter season, generally coinciding with the time of pruning, adult borers move to the olive wood and pierce the branches, practicing a bridal chamber. They have a preference for medium-sized sticks, arranged in the shade and not too dry or too fresh. On one side and the other of the bridal chamber, adults make a tunnel where the female makes the egg laying. The larvae that feed on the wood are born from the eggs. When they complete their growth, the larvae pupate and, after a few days, they become imagos. The exit holes, unlike the entrance holes, do not have the typical sawdust that gives away the activity of the parents. Completed the cycle, the beetles fly to the nearby olive groves, feeding in the tunnels they make in the inserts of the leaves, fruits and olive twigs.


The damages that are produced are a result from the food tunnels in which the olive tree borer adults are settled, which weaken the inserts of leaves, fruits and small branches, leading to their fall, especially during the collection of the olive. As a result of these tunnels and breaks, the trees lose vigour and volume, which reduces their production capacity. This can cause an important impact in olive groves close to places where olive wood is stored without taking appropriate measures.


For the control of the damages produced by the olive tree sweeper there are several aspects to take into account:

  • Storage of olive wood under adequate conditions. Wood from the pruning of the olive tree should be stored in tightly closed places between May 1 and October 31.
  • Damage tracking. The percentage of outbreaks of affected olive trees will be monitored, so that only when the economic threshold of damage is exceeded will treatment with authorized phytosanitary products be followed, using the appropriate doses and safety deadlines.
  • Determining the appropriate time for treatment. It is essential for the efficiency of the treatments to determine the optimal time for its implementation. This moment will vary annually depending on the climatic conditions of each zone, so to determine the appropriate time it is convenient to use bait sticks in which the entry and exit holes are counted. Doing the treatment in advance when the borer is not in the olive grove or its delay to a date when adults are mostly inside the feeding tunnels, will make the treatment ineffective.

We advise you to contact us to determine the level of damage in your olive grove and, if it were necessary, to help you determine the optimal time to perform the treatment.


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