Scientists say beetle could be spreading tree-killing fungus

Scientists say beetle could be spreading tree-killing fungus

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - Scientists say the rapid spread of the fungus that is threatening the Big Island's native forests may be caused by beetles that take over dead ohia trees.

West Hawaii Today reports that the disease has killed hundreds of thousands of ohia trees, which are critical to Hawaii's water supply and endangered native birds.

University of Hawaii forester J.B. Friday says ambrosia beetles and the dust they spread, which can travel miles in the wind, could be why the disease known as rapid ohia death has managed to affect 35,000 acres of forest within a few years.

Scientists recommend property owners cut down their dead trees and cover the wood to reduce beetle infestation.

The disease has been found in Puna, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and other areas of the Big Island.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.