A Florida congressman is requesting federal help to fight a tiny beetle that can kill avocado trees.

The exotic redbay ambrosia beetle spreads a fungus that causes laurel wilt disease.

The disease has killed redbay trees — closely related to avocado trees — throughout the southeastern United States. Scientists fear the disease could wipe out half the state’s avocado crop.

Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., sent a letter on March 27 to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, seeking immediate help to stem the pest’s spread south.

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