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Red Palm Weevil, Palm Weevil, Palm Pests and Bugs

Updated on July 13, 2015

On October 4th, 2010, on Laguna Beach in the United States, the first ever Red Palm Weevil infestation was reported.

Pest control companies are losing the battle to contain this pest.

The Red Palm Weevil, or just the Palm Weevil, has devastated palm trees all through Indonesia and the Mediterranean.

Whole plantations of palm trees have been destroyed because of the spread of Red Palm Weevil, one one the worlds worst palm pests.

The breeding cycle of these bugs is so fast. that by the end of a year, a single adult female Red Palm Weevil, will of laid over 1000 eggs, with their off spring laying another 200 eggs every ten weeks.

It is safe to assume that after this one infestation was found in Laguna Beach, by the end of the first year, there were over two million Red Palm Weevil beetles. Invading San Francisco, Las Vegas, and almost a quarter of Arizona and California.

That will account for over 50,000 palm trees being destroyed, with 500,000 infestations. These are the average facts of the spread of the Red Palm Weevil, this was only in the first year.

The Red Palm Weevil

The Red Palm Weevil can grow to a size of 5 centimeters, although the average is only 3-4 centimeters. Reddish or orange in colour, these devastating beetles can cause mayhem in private as well as commercial gardens.

The main trees they attack are the date, olive, and coconut palm trees, but other palm trees are also being infested.

The female will lay about 200 eggs on the soft heart of the plant, at the base of new leaves, or even in open lesions on the tree or leaves, usually where they have been trimmed back.

Once the eggs hatch into a larvae, they will begin to eat the soft fibres or buds of the tree, and each larvae will then tunnel up to one meter inside the tree, destroying the tree from the inside.

This will continue for almost a month, until the pupae leave the tunnels and form a cocoon at the base of the tree, where it will transform into an adult Red Weevil Beetle, and the whole life cycle will begin again.

Symptoms of Infection

The crown of the palm tree is the first part to wilt and discolour.This is due to the damage the larvae cause inside the tree, preventing water and nutrients reaching the leaves.

The damage is usually only visible a long time after the infestation has been going on, and it may be already to late to save the tree.

On quiet days or nights, if you place your ear onto an infested tree, you will be able to hear the sounds of the larvae burrowing inside the palm tree.

Treatment for the Red Weevil is usually insecticide poured over the infested part of the tree, but you need to catch them early.

There are sprays available which can deter the adult weevils from laying in your tree, you will need to contact a local tree surgeon for this.

DO NOT ALLOW A TREE SURGEON WITHOUT A RED WEEVIL LICENSE TO REMOVE AN INFESTED TREE. This is against the law and both the owner and tree surgeon may be fined.

Tree surgeons, garden centres and pest control companies including the national forest trust can guide in the right direction to remove this pest from your garden.

Palm Tree Removal

The spread of Palm Weevils is helped by tree surgeons or gardeners who do not know what they are up against.

Many gardeners will simply cut down the leaves that are discoloured and drag them to the bins or their own trailer, not realising that eggs, larvae and the actual Adult Red Weevil beetles are on the leaves.

This allows them to be taken further from the host tree to other new trees waiting to be infested.

Other tree surgeons will cut down the tree in sections and take them away, dumping them anywhere, this has not killed the problem, it has just helped the spread.

In Europe, the problem has become so bad, that only licensed tree surgeons can now cut down an infected palm by law, with very large fines for those who are not licensed or even a custodial sentence for repeat offenders.

The correct way to dispose of a palm tree that has been infected with the red weevil is total incineration.

The tree needs to be dismantled, not just cut down, leaf by leaf, section by section, and wrapped in plastic sheets, then taken away for incineration. This is the only method which has helped slow the spread of the red weevil in Spain.

First ever USA Red Palm Weevil Outbreak

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Laguna Beach, CA, USA
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