Bronze birch borer (Agrilus anxius Gory) (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), a specialist wood-borer endemic to North America, is prone to periodic outbreaks that have caused widespread mortality of birch (Betula spp.) in boreal and north temperate forests. It is also the key pest of birch in ornamental landscapes. Amenity plantings have extended the distribution of birch in North America, for which we report an updated map. Life history and phenology also are summarized. Larvae feed primarily on phloem tissue of stems and branches, which can girdle and kill trees. Stressors such as drought, elevated temperature, and defoliation predispose trees to bronze birch borer colonization and trigger outbreaks, which implicates the availability of suitable host material in the bottom-up regulation of populations. Stress imposed by climate change may increase the frequency of outbreaks and alter the distribution of birch. Bronze birch borer has a diverse array of natural enemies, but their role in top-down population regulation has not been studied. There is substantial interspecific variation in resistance to this insect. North American species share a coevolutionary history with bronze birch borer and are much more resistant than Eurasian species, which are evolutionarily naive. Potential resistance mechanisms are reviewed. The high susceptibility of Eurasian birch species and climatic similarities of North America and Eurasia create high risk of widespread birch mortality in Eurasia if the borer was inadvertently introduced. Bronze birch borer can be managed in amenity plantings through selection of resistant birch species, plant health care practices, and insecticides.
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Vol. 41 • No. 6