A branchlet-mining scolytid beetle, Hylurdrectonus araucariae Schedl, has invaded the hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) plantations at Bulolo and Wau in Papua New Guinea. A study of the infestation pattern in a plot of 184 young (5–6 year-old) trees at Bulolo from February 1968–August 1972 revealed four major phases: (i), a relatively prolonged but small build-up of the population on most trees over a period of 12–18 months following the first attack; (ii), a dramatic upsurge in the infestation over the following 12–18 months, reaching a peak infestation with the severe attack of nearly all trees in the plot; (iii), a sharp decline in the number of attacks and population over the next 12–18 months due to a lack of nest sites and food and (iv), a slow decline over a protracted period. The variation (313 to 6220) in the maximum number of infested branchlets on the trees in the plot at peak attack was great, due to the differing amounts of foliage and size of the trees, but it usually represented an estimated 85–95% of the foliage.
A comparative study of seedling resistance of the two major plantation species, hoop pine and klinkii pine (Araucaria hunsteinii) was carried out at Bulolo in 1967 using seedlings from the local nursery and placing them in cages with large quantities of infested foliage. Over a two-month period, no colonies of H. araucariae were established in the klinkii pine seedlings and only three of 32 attacks recorded in the hoop pine seedlings had produced brood. Infestation of seedlings was extremely rare in the plantations and natural stands. On the other hand, most trees aged 2·5 to 12 years in the plantations at Bulolo and Wau were susceptible to severe infestation. Older trees were seldom severely attacked. Klinkii pine has proved non-susceptible to attack. In studies of impact in three plots of 1000 trees at Bulolo from 1967–1971, least growth increment and highest mortality was recorded in the plot that had been initially severely affected by the scolytid. In contrast, good growth and low mortality was recorded in the plot of healthy trees. They were later exposed to severe infestation from the adjacent plantation of young 3–4 year-old trees, but escaped relatively unscathed. In another study of impact at Bulolo from 1967–1972, the effect of two levels of pruning on subsequent growth and re-infestation was examined. The results indicated that site also strongly affected the situation, with little growth and high mortality evident on poor sites. Secondary insects, notably the weevil Vanapa oberthueri Pouillaude, were an important factor contributing to mortality among the stressed trees.