Florida Palm Trees Dying From Bug

Palm Trees Being Infected In Tampa, Now Happening In Duval

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A home is probably one of the biggest investments most people will ever make.

And a large portion of many budgets go into landscaping, especially toward palm trees in Florida.

But there is a pest that is eating away at palm trees and is causing homeowners a lot of stress.

The scariest part is that there is not a whole lot homeowners can do to make sure their palm trees are safe, except to make sure they aren't buying any from Tampa. If you drive through the Tampa area, you will notice a lot of palm trees with a brown shade, instead of the usual vibrant green color.

That's what happens when palm trees are infected with Texas Phoenix Palm Decline, or TPPD...they turn brown.

TPPD is spread by a bug that hops from palm to palm, bites the plant, then essentially backwashes the bacteria into the palm tree's system, killing it within a matter of months.

This bug only affects certain types of palm trees, but they are the expensive ones, costing 2-to-8 thousand dollars per tree.

Another tree that is affected is the sable palm, Florida's state tree.

Commercial Horticulture Agent Erin Harlow said, "it actually started in 2009, really confirmed cases. 2006 was when we saw it in the Tampa area. We did have our confirmed case in 2009, and that was a tree that was brought in and we know that it died within a year. We tracked it back to the nursery and it was the Tampa area. So that is probably how it's going to be brought into Duval County, somebody is bringing in palm trees from somewhere else."

Experts still don't know exactly what bug it is, but there have been cases here in the Jacksonville area, and you can't save a tree once it has it.

One method of possibly stopping the bug is to inject surrounding tress with a protecting agent every three or four months, but that can also be expensive. For more information on TPPD and how you can protect your palm trees, visit this website.

Copyright 2011 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.