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Palm Weevil, Red Palm Weevil

Updated on July 1, 2017
Red Palm Weevils
Red Palm Weevils

On October 4th, 2010, on Laguna Beach, Orange County, California in the United States, the first ever Red Weevil infestation in the USA was reported. It is quickly spreading to San Diego, Los Angels, Florida, and Colorado.

The Palm Weevil, also known as the Red Palm Weevil, the Mediterranean Palm Weevil, Red Palm Beetle, Palm Worm, ( larvae ) and the Giant Palm Weevil.

It is a bug that can devastate and destroy whole plantations of palm trees in a short amount of time. The infestations of palm trees that occur in warmer climate countries, spread so rapidly, that local governments around the globe have set up special departments to quickly deal with any Palm Weevil infestations that come to light.

The female Red Palm Weevil will lay up to 200 eggs at any one time, and the whole life cycle will take only 7-10 weeks, making this fast breeding bug one of the worlds fastest spreading pests.

On average, the Red Weevil infestation of a country can be nearly 1 kilometer per day. This means that once an infestation of a palm tree has occurred for the first time in a country, it will spread so fast that within a year, there will be over 50,000 reported cases within a near 400 kilometer range.

Palm Weevils against the Governments

The Palm Weevil originated in Indonesia and Asia, and as with many tropical insects, was transported in products from that country by boat.

It was first identified in the Mediterranean in the 1980s and reached Spain in 1994, devastating huge areas of palms, and destroying private garden palms and even garden centers and spread to France in 2004.

The spread of this devastating beetle, was also helped by bogus tree surgeons who did not understand the Palm Weevil and how to kill them or prevent them from spreading.

The European governments began to intervene as the palm tree devastation took hold as over a million cases of Palm Weevil infestations per year were reported.

Local councils opened up special departments for the palm trees under their control, such as the trees in local parks and along beaches and roads. Issuing licences to companies who had undergone professional training in the treatment and removal of the Red Weevil.

Hefty fines are given to companies removing palm trees where there has been an infestation of the Red Palm Weevil, if the company does not have a license.

Tree Surgeon
Tree Surgeon

How Palm Weavils Spread

Palm Weevils can spread in several different ways. When a tree surgeon or a DIY gardener cuts down the leaves of an infected palm tree, they will usually drag the branch along the floor. This will help the weevils spread further from the tree, as they fall of every few feet, and will crawl to the next nearest tree.

If a palm tree has been cut down, and has just been left in the garden or on the street to be collected, the palm weevil can again walk to another tree or be transferred in pick up trucks or trailers.

Red Palm weevils can also be spread by violent winds. Licensed tree surgeons will carefully cut down the entire tree in sections and carefully wrap them up in plastic or strong cellophane. The sections will then be transported to a designated site, and then incinerated. They will then use special chemicals on other trees in proximity to the infested tree to kill any Weevils which may be on them.

If a palm tree has been attacked by the Red Palm Weevil, it may be cured if treated in time.

Red Weevil Infestation
Red Weevil Infestation

The Red Weevil Larvae

It is the Red Weevil Larvae which causes nearly all the damage to a palm tree with nearly 200 larvae hatching out from the mothers eggs at one time.

Once the larvae are born, they will begin to burrow into the soft heart of the palm tree, and each one will burrow about a one meter long tunnel. All these tunnels will reduce the amount of water the tree can take up, resulting in the palm tree eventually dieing.

The adult Red Weevils grow to be about 3-5 centimeters long. If the Red Weevil is discovered before the leaves of a palm tree begin to wilt through lack of water due to an infestation, then the tree could be saved, and if you put you ear to an infested tree, you should be able to hear the red weevil larvae, tunnelling.

How to kill Red Palm Weevils

In most countries it is illegal for individuals to cut down an infected tree. There are pesticides that will kill red palm weevils and their larvae available at garden centers.

Always seek advice from a qualified tree surgeon or the local government department for the use of these pesticides as some are on sale, but still illegal to use in certain countries without a licence.


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    • billericky profile image

      billericky 6 years ago from Plymouth

      The insecticide that kills red palm weevils varies in name and legalitities in each country. Some governments do not allow certain chemicals that are used in Asia and parts of Europe.

      It is always best to contact a local garden center for information regarding local laws on removing the red palm weevil from trees.

      Do not get mixed up with Vine Weevil killer insecticides, these will not work on the red palm weevil.

    • profile image

      lorraine bolden 6 years ago

      Most useful site yet, what are the names of the insecticides that kill the weevils?