Hazelnut-California Prionus Beetle

Prionus californicus

Pest description and crop damage A very large (up to 3.5 inch body), brown longhorned beetle with elongate serrated antennae and large mandibles (jaws). Three lateral spines are present on each side of the thorax. The adult beetles are capable of vocalizing when disturbed. The adults fly at night and are attracted to lights, making them familiar to residents of the Pacific Northwest. The larvae, or grubs, are also quite large, and range from 0.75 inch when young to more than 4 inches when mature. Adult beetles do not feed. The white legless larvae are the damaging stage as they destroy roots, typically starting as young larvae at the tips, and increasing in size as they mature and progress toward the root crown. This may cause symptoms of stress in the tree canopy that manifest as die back, reduced growth/poor vigor or reduced nutrient status in plant tissues.

Biology and life history Eggs are laid just below the soil surface in summer. Larvae emerge from eggs and begin seeking out roots. As described above, the youngest larvae are found on more distal roots and the largest larvae are typically found within the crown. Larvae girdle roots and hollow them out with their tunnels. The larvae can develop for up to five years before pupating close to the soil surface and emerging as adults in mid-summer. Because they don't feed, the adults are not damaging to the orchard, and can live for close to a month producing up to 200 eggs per female.

Pest monitoring Pheromone traps are available to monitor adult beetle populations. The traps capture male beetles using a female-produced sex pheromone. Typically, a panel trap with large surface area is most appropriate for capturing beetles with the pheromone lure. Light traps can also capture adults. Larvae may be discovered by removing soil and examining roots for feeding damage. Trees with poor vigor or signs of canopy stress may help narrow down the search for larvae.

Management-biological control

Very little is known about potential biological controls. Soil-dwelling predators may cause some level of larval mortality.

Management-cultural control

There are no known cultural controls.

Management-behavioral control

There is potential for mass trapping adult males using the commercial pheromone lure. Enough beetles can be caught to reduce mating success and lower the number of eggs laid into the soil, reducing the local population over time. Because the larvae are in the soil for so long, it is important to maintain the trapping program for several years to see any results. Mating disruption also shows promise but remains in the research phase of development.

Management-chemical control: COMMERCIAL & HOME USE

No insecticides are labeled against Prionus in hazelnuts.