Red Palm Weevil Red Palm Weevil
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Red Palm Weevil


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Curculionidae
Genus: Rhynchophorus
Species: Ferrugineus

Red Palm Weevil News

The red palm weevil
(Rhynchophorus ferrugineus)

is known to attack
20 palm species worldwide -

Agave americana, Areca catechu, Arenga pinnata, Borassus flabellifer, Caryota maxima, C. cumingii, Cocos nucifera (coconut palm), Corypha gebanga, C. elata, Elaeis guineensis, Livistona decipiens, Metroxylon sagu, Oreodoxa regia, Phoenix canariensis, P. dactylifera (date palm), P. sylvestris, Sabal umbraculifera, Saccharum officinarum, Trachycarpus fortunei and  Washingtonia

It has been found in more than
30 countries, including -

Aruba, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Papua-New Guinea, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.

European Palm Society

Pine Tree Nematode Blight

The devastation caused by the Red Palm Weevil began in the 80s in Southeast Asia in the Coconut Palms. It gradually worked its way toward the Mediterranean and attacked the Canary Palms which were prevalent particularly in Egypt. It continued to make its way westward to Spain where it has caused widespread damage. One cause of the explosive spread of the weevil is human. Demand for new trees has created the need to re-locate infested trees from contaminated to otherwise uninfected locales. Additionally, as the Red Palm Weevil has particularly strong wings, they are capable of flying considerable distances.

Sadly, the Weevil found its way into Algarve and the areas initially struck were Vale de Lobo, Albufeira and Algoz. Last year we recall the diggers uprooting the half dozen palms in Algoz just before the petrol station on the road to Silves. The palms literally collapsed in a matter of weeks. In Silves we saw the environmental authorities in full hazchem suits treating the trees that line the roads in Silves, particularly those along the riverbank from the traffic lights at the bridge to the Palace of Justice roundabut heading toward Messines. The authorities currently have traps attached to the trees in an attempt to keep the trees alive. Albufeira has been hit badly and once beautiful specimens are reduced to dead trunks and headless of their crowning glory.

A little about the Weevil itself. The female lays 200-300 eggs at a time which hatch very quickly. At any given time a single tree can contain the eggs, larvae and pupae. At maturity the Weevil is around 5cm/2 inches long.

A survey in Spain found that some 80% of the trees affected are male palms. How can you tell a male palm from a female one? …. now that is the difficulty when the palms are small. It is quite easy to tell when they are older as the female tree has the orange fruit splaying from the fronds.

Warning Signs …

  • The fronds suddenly die and collapse.

  • On examination of the trunk near the crown or even on the base of the fronds you may find a hole the size of a finger.

  • There may be an unpleasant odour of rotting vegetation and brown ooze coming from the wounds and, if you ‘listen’ to the trunk you may hear the Weevil eating the tissue of the palm.

  • You may see mutilated or broken fronds emerging from the top and centre of the crown appearing as if they have been trimmed with a shears.

At this stage the damage can be extensive.

Sadly, there appears nothing you can do to stop the Weevils entering your palm.

Control …

You should check your palms on a regular basis.

Should you decide your palm is affected, you can use …

  • Contact Insecticides which is applied to the surface to combat the insects, eggs and pupae. Current applications used are Diazinon, Confidor and Vetimec. I believe these may be available from such outlets as Adupor in Portimão and other similar establishments.

  • Systemic Insecticides (Imidacloprid & Tiamatoxin) which is injected and absorbed into the palm tissue. The trunk is drilled and the insecticide injected through a tube. Obviously it would be advisable that this is done by a palm expert.

  • Small or contained palms may be watered with the product absorbing it through its roots. It should be repeated 2-3 months later and thereafter a couple of times a year.

  • You could introduce Nematodes to your palm. These are live parasites that attack and kill the Weevil.

  • You can attach Pheromone traps to capture and kill the Weevil.

An added precaution is to leave the lower fronds to die naturally then sawn off. If you feel it too untidy looking, then the fronds should be trimmed about approximately one meter from the base of the crown, never level with trunk.

Copyright 2009 VKB