H-SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Feb 18, 2013 6:13 PM by The Associated Press

San Diego County sees unwanted beetlemania arrive

SAN DIEGO (AP) - It's beetlemania in San Diego County. But there are no screams of joy.

The exotic gold-spotted oak borer beetle, which hitched a ride into California on firewood more than 10 years ago, has been wreaking havoc on old growth oaks and wildlife that uses the trees as habitat.

The beetles appeared in Marian Bear Memorial Park near La Jolla several years ago, and by last year had spread into the San Jacinto Mountains of Riverside County.

UT San Diego reports that countywide about $8 million has been spent clearing San Diego County's beetle-damaged trees, some of them oaks that were centuries old and provided crucial canopies for both animals in their habitats and humans seeking shady refuge.

Officials are warning against transporting firewood between regions and furthering the spread.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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