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Laurel wilt found in Craven and Carteret counties for the first time

"Redbay (Persea borbonia) with Laurel Wilt" by Mary Keim is licensed under
Creative Commons
N.C. Forest Service

The North Carolina Forest Service said that a devastating plant disease has been identified along Highway 70 in Craven County and Highway 58 in Carteret County. According to a news release, detections of laurel wilt were confirmed by pathologists at N.C. State University’s Plant Disease and Insect Clinic. It’s the first time the disease has been found in either county. Trees are infected with the fungus that causes laurel wilt disease by the invasive redbay ambrosia beetle. When female beetles bore into trees to lay their eggs, they carry the fungus with them. Trees infected with laurel wilt typically die within weeks or months. Currently, there is not a reliable way to treat the disease and insecticides have been ineffective at stopping beetle attacks. A number of plants in the laurel family can be affected by the disease, including sassafras, redbay, pondspice, and spicebush. Laurel wilt has been found in more than a dozen Eastern North Carolina counties, including Duplin, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir and Wayne counties.