Heidi Trautmann

There is the red Palm Weevil in our garden

By Heidi Trautmann When I first saw this brown reddish beetle sit on my desk I thought ‘How cute’ took a picture of it and carried it out into freedom. Only two weeks later when a friend showed me her photos of the same beetle and its brood consisting of 4 cm long white larvae she had found in the crown of her palm tree a shower of goose pimples ran down my back. It was the red palm weevil feared by all garden owners with palm trees. Horror stories of palm trees dying along the entire Mediterranean coast have been reported in the media, also in Cyprus where the culprit was the one who had imported hundreds of palm trees from Egypt, it is rumoured. The damage is done and there is no use complaining but do something. I looked and found some information in the internet with Wikipedia: The red palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, is a species of snout beetle also known as the Asian palm weevil or sago palm weevil. The adult beetles are relatively large, ranging between two and five centimeters long, and are usually a rusty red colour - but many colour variants exist and have often been misidentified as different species (e.g., Rhynchophorus vulneratus;). Weevil larvae can excavate holes in the trunk of a palm trees up to a metre long, thereby weakening and eventually killing the host plant. As a result, the weevil is considered a major pest in palm plantations, including the coconut palm, date palm and oil palm. Originally from tropical Asia, the red palm weevil has spread to Africa and Europe, reaching the Mediterranean in the 1980s. The first thing one should do is examine the crowns of your palm trees for larvae and then – if positive - rush to the next shop selling the appropriate poison which I heard must be diluted in water and poured into the crown and around the tree. I will also approach our municipality if they have means to help and give advice. So be warned and climb up your palm trees to check if the beetle has moved in for free board and lodge.

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