Quickly spreading fungus killing trees

Fungus killing hundreds of trees in Volusia and Flagler Counties

Published On: Mar 11 2013 12:31:06 PM EDT
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -

A quickly spreading fungus is killing trees across central Florida.

Officials say the fungus, "laurel wilt", attacks quickly and has already killed hundreds of "redbay trees". The infestation, carried by ambrosia beetles, has spread across Volusia and Flagler counties and has been spotted in the Ocala National Forest as well as up and down the St. Johns River.

The beetles drill into redbay trees and rapidly multiply the fungi. The bugs feed on the fungus, blocking water from getting into the limbs, branches and leaves. The leaves quickly change from green to brown. 

Specialists say trees can be protected if treated early enough with a fungicide which costs between $100 to $300 per tree.

Officials said the beetles also attack other trees, including swamp bay, sassafras and avocado.