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Toby

Red Palm Weevil Scare

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Toby

In Europe, the latest scare going around is about the Red Palm Weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, and even made t to the mainstream press. Here, a certain Céline Vidal of the regional plant protection (SRPV) of the Departement Var (Mediterranean coast of France) claims that "the whole coast is infested", and that "there are no palms left in Palermo, Napoli, same as in Valencia or Malaga".

Defra, the UK - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, even suggests that this pest, despite being a tropical insect, could spread to the UK.

I cannot help but think that this is being made into a big scare with very little scientific facts to back it up. Some of the claims are clearly false. I would be really interested to know if any of you can report on the actual state of affairs along the mediterranean coast, especially in the abovementioned cities, or has any first-hand experience with these bugs in Asia, where they have been known for a long time.

Best, TOBY

PS: This is an article from 2002 that appeared in PALMS for some background information.

Rhynchophorus_ferrugineus.jpg

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Nigel

Toby, any entimologist could discount the possibility of the insect taking hold in britain within 2 minutes.

First there is no significant palm population for it to feed on, but even if there were the insects size is such that it can never survive here.

The bigger an insect the more heat it needs to survive.

This is a tropical insect.

Its lunacy, but that wont stop DEFRA, my understanding is that  in March every single palm will need its own passport to certify its free of the weevil so that what exactly ???  can be protected..  I am sure the germans will have to follow .....

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_Keith

(Nigel @ Feb. 04 2008,17:53)

QUOTE
ts lunacy, but that wont stop DEFRA, my understanding is that  in March every single palm will need its own passport to certify its free of the weevil so that what exactly ???  can be protected..  I am sure the germans will have to follow .....

And when it is required, up go the costs to acquire it.

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LJG

Well, the fact it is in France tells me it could live in SoCal. That would not be good. Hopefully the French find a pesticide or predatory insect cure before it gets here.

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CarloSpain

Here in Malaga, the attempts of the public administrations for putting brake to the plague of 'Red Palm Weevil', which in the last year is fed with the palms, it seem to have fallen down in torn sack. One year after starting affecting thousands of specimens, this devastating insect more known as the red beetle, it continues actuating its broad ones with a silent assault inside the specimen, up to making it hollow. The insect is lethal if it is not detected and is actuated in time. The damages caused in the botanical and landscape wealth of the province are already irreparable.

Some post in Infojardin forum:

http://www.infojardin.com/foro/showthread.php?t=71836

http://www.infojardin.com/foro....do+rojo

Thanks for the interest!

Jose Carlos

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Nigel

Carlos, I have just read about what it is doing to Phoenix in Rome, its horrifying. It could completely wipe out the species in Southern Europe.

It seems to reagrd Phoenix  as dinner regardless of whether its a sick palm or not, whilst other species go untouched.

I am thinking about your beautiful Botanic garden near the harbour in Malaga.

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merrill

Hi, Nigel:

I agree, you are very safe in UK, but we may not be here in Florida.  Extensive epidemiological work in the native range to discern natural enemies there is essential.

Nigel, I hope all is going well for you!

merrill

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Palmtrader

I understand there has been isolated cases in the Valencia region and that has made the authorities inflict quite strict guidelines to anyone hoping to export palms to Northern Europe. They suggest that all palms need to be sprayed every fifteen days and then inspected to be given the official passport for export.

There appears to be no evidence that this beetle could survive here in Valencia for very long because of the cold winters let alone advance any further north but we are still caught up in the nonsense red tape putting unnecessary restraints on all our businesses.

What makes it all even more rediculous is that you can export up to 3000 euros worth of palms privately without the certificate and it is only if you are registered as a company do the rules apply. Total nonsense !

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Charles Wychgel

The first dead Phoenix canariensis has been reported near Lagos last year, that is 16 km from where I live  :angry:; since then I've seen lots,lots more.

Check this

http://www.palmsociety.org.uk/forum/topic.asp?topicid=220

Preventive treatment costs per palm will be 200/300 Euros ...luckily I have only 3 Phoenix canariensis...maybe I should whack them :( ?

Andy, this  beetle will survive  our winter temperatures just by hibernating deep in the heart of the palm

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Palm Guy

Wow, thats some scary stuff. Does anyone know if the larvae hide or can hide in palm seeds?

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PalmatierMeg

I second Palm Guy's question about weevils & seeds.

Am I alone in wondering whether RPS's seed prices will take a big jump skyward come March, given the frenzy and apparent meters of red tape over this insidious bug? Is now the time to purchase the seeds we all covet? What's the consensus, gang?

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Toby

Michael, no the weevil we are discussing here does not attack seeds. The are, however, other, much smaller weevils that breed in palm seeds and that can be a problem in some wild collected seeds, especially in some Brahea, Sabal and Syagrus. They are not agressive, however, and will not spread in a batch of matured seeds but only lay their eggs in unripe seeds that are still on the tree.

Meg, I don't see this affecting seed prices at all so far. The bureaucrats haven't aimed at seeds yet, and there is no reason to do so. Lets hope it will stay that way.

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mnorell

I just googled and found an abstract for an article published in India by the Coconut Development Board that says "This paper provides evidences demonstrating that the crow pheasant, which belongs to the cuckoo family and acts as a predator of insects and pests, has great potential as an effective biological control agent and indicator of red palm weevil [Rhynchophorus ferrugineus] attack on palms."

Anybody have any information on this bird, and whether it is present and/or adaptable outside of India in other tropical/subtropical/warm-temperate areas? Obviously there is some critter (or critters) in Asia that keep this monster in check in its native habitat.

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palmazon

I got these in a batch of Brahea decumbens seed you sent me last year; about 1/5 of the seeds were infested with live bugs, even after they were apparently treated.

weevil.jpg

larvae.jpg

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Carlo Morici

It IS in some of the Canary Islands.

Official website on the Red Palm Weevil, by the Canary Islands Government. In Spanish.

http://80.33.56.184/picudorojo/

Download the big document in PDF.

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Nigel

(Carlo Morici @ Feb. 15 2008,15:36)

QUOTE
It IS in some of the Canary Islands.

Oh my god this can mean extinction in the wild

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macgd016
I understand there has been isolated cases in the Valencia region and that has made the authorities inflict quite strict guidelines to anyone hoping to export palms to Northern Europe. They suggest that all palms need to be sprayed every fifteen days and then inspected to be given the official passport for export.

There appears to be no evidence that this beetle could survive here in Valencia for very long because of the cold winters let alone advance any further north but we are still caught up in the nonsense red tape putting unnecessary restraints on all our businesses.

What makes it all even more rediculous is that you can export up to 3000 euros worth of palms privately without the certificate and it is only if you are registered as a company do the rules apply. Total nonsense !

I think that it is somewhat unwise to assume that your cold winters will stop you getting this pest. I live in the mountains in Andalucia where we have some pretty cold winters and this beetle is well established at 650 meters

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Kris

Dear Friends :)

very useful & eye opener information.and the reports have proved once again my point as correct.i have been asking all memebers to grow palms from different countries & regions.and also exchange seeds as much as possible.since who knows what palm species will be wiped out all of a sudden in a perticular region or climatic zone...

And what are my chances of getting these kind of infection on to my palms,is their any do'es & don'ts for palm growing.since iam trying CIDP's & sabals in chennai(south India).and near my house & in my area we have plently of coconut trees,so my question is will the coconut tree problems manifest in my cidp's or sabals too ?

thanks & love,

Kris :)

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gyuseppe

toby, in my city naples,and in South italy,and a real tragedy,many phoenix canariensis death,even my phoenix canariensis death,the authorities are not doing anything to help phoenix canariensis.

(sorry my english)

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geonomaDude

The "Picudo" is the responsible for some palm deaths here in Costa Rica.

Here's a picture:

post-633-1235741635_thumb.jpg

(I think the palm was a Dypsis decaryi)

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kristof p
I got these in a batch of Brahea decumbens seed you sent me last year; about 1/5 of the seeds were infested with live bugs, even after they were apparently treated.

weevil.jpg

larvae.jpg

i've have got the same larve in lots of B. moorei seeds i purchased in 2007. i think over 70% was infected with that animal...not good because the moorei seeds were quite expensive.

i checked al the seeds by pressing them between my fingers. the ones that were infected easily 'explode' with little presure(was quite a messy job). i only kept the hard seeds. i also have found a dead insect with the seeds :unsure:...

Nigel, not sure if large insects can not survive our 'cold' climate. we have quite a large insect that is endemic to my country. we call it 'vliegend hert' (flying deer) ( Lucanus cervus ) the male's are around 7cm to 8cm tall....

post-2909-1236076244_thumb.jpg

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The Germinator
Well, the fact it is in France tells me it could live in SoCal. That would not be good. Hopefully the French find a pesticide or predatory insect cure before it gets here.

Thier always having problems with invasions. Here in So-Cal we will kick the critters butt if he shows up. :lol:

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mlovecan
I cannot help but think that this is being made into a big scare with very little scientific facts to back it up. Some of the claims are clearly false. I would be really interested to know if any of you can report on the actual state of affairs along the mediterranean coast, especially in the abovementioned cities, or has any first-hand experience with these bugs in Asia, where they have been known for a long time.

Best, TOBY

Hi Toby,

Can assure you the Red Palm Weevil is not just a "big scare".

I am working in Budapest at the moment and, due to other obligations in Northern Europe was unable to return to my home for the entire month of February.

Made it back last weekend. There are at least 10 P. Canariensis in my village that were alive in January but now DEAD. FLATTENED. Up the coast in Falaraki, there are about 20 just on the main road through town that showed no signs of RPW in January.

All of the literature states RPW to be most active in the summer. The first dead tree I noticed in my village was in September 2008. Now I would say about half of the approximately 200 local P. Canariensis are DEAD.

It is so sad to see this happen that I told my wife I wish they would all just die and get cut down and I wouldn't have to look at them anymore :( . Just hope the RPW's don't move on to other palms ( expect they will ) once the P. Canariensis popoulation is all gone :( .

TBH, the Greeks have not responded well to the crisis. 99% of the dead trees are still standing.

Just wrote to a company north of Frankfurt this morning to inquire abouth the Pheromone traps they sell.

regards

Maurice

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kristof p

Maurice,

auch, that most be a very sad thing to see. i sure hope it stops when al the Phoenix species are gone but like you said they would just jump on their second favorite palm to feed...

maybe some wil disagree with me but i think it would be better for palm growing people here if the large gardencentra stop importing palms from southern europe, at least the canarensis palms they import every year in large numbers. i would hate to loose my palms because of some bug. i would rather have that they are killed by frost...

is it true that the rpw is also sighted at Crete? if so the P. theophrastii populations are under great thread and there are not many in cultivation outside the area's that are most likely to be infested with the rpw. and how about the theophrastii populations in Turkey (Golkoy)?

maybe it is wise to investigate what Michael Norell said in an above post. there must be some kind of creature that feeds on this insects! would be a lot cheaper than those traps...

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Kris
Thier always having problems with invasions. Here in So-Cal we will kick the critters butt if he shows up. :lol:

:lol:

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mlovecan
is it true that the rpw is also sighted at Crete? if so the P. theophrastii populations are under great thread and there are not many in cultivation outside the area's that are most likely to be infested with the rpw. and how about the theophrastii populations in Turkey (Golkoy)?

maybe it is wise to investigate what Michael Norell said in an above post. there must be some kind of creature that feeds on this insects! would be a lot cheaper than those traps...

Unfortunately, RPW is also present in Crete.

Nikos Thymakis first discovered RPW in his garden in 2004 and blames it on the importation of landscape palms in the time leading up to the Greek Olympics. Don't know whether that is true but I am confident of where it came from on our island.

Nikos wrote on article in the most prominent english-speaking newspaper in Greece stating his fears for the Vai Beach P. theophrastii. Apparently in laboratory experiments RPW has been proven to be "interested" in P. theophrastii.

Don't know about in the wild but all I can say is that if Greece lost the Vai Beach population, it would be the loss of a major national treasure IMO. I have been to many palm-fringed beaches ( mostly lined with coconuts ). For me, Vai Beach has "something" I have not seen elsewhere. Losing the Vai Beach habitat would be a great loss for Europe and the palm world in general.

I really hope that does not happen and would do anything in my power to prevent it.

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Phoenikakias

Bump! A very educative thread, for people to learn what happens if a danger is underestimated and serious concern is degraded to unsubstantiated panic! Some update since start of this topic is very indicative: Victims have fallen in Palermo (It) Pritchardia remota, Bismarckia nobilis and Livistona mariae, in Portugal Pritchardia hillebrandii and in Greece Syagrus romanzoffiana.

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Toby

I have to admit that I underestimated the effect the RPW would have on P. canariensis 6 years ago, which has been rather devastating, however, it seems that other species commonly encountered in southern European landscapes are largely unaffected. I have been to Vai in 2010 and saw no damage to P. theophrastii by RPW, but rather by excessive water use for agriculture. In Athens last year I saw a lot of dead or dying P. canariensis and little action by authorities and the same I hear from friends in Italy. Action by authorities is not taken or ineffective and many P. canariensis are left dying until hundreds of beetles have hatched and spread. Meanwhile, the EU has passed a number of completely ineffective laws that concentrate largely on the nursery business and leave home owners and cities without effective information or aid. Correct me if I am wrong, but the EU does not even have a website up dealing with the matter and providing information on how to keep the problem at bay.

Best, TOBY

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WestCoastGal

When RPW was found in Southern California, I'm happy to say that California and the U.S. Federal Government's agricultural agencies took notice (both have websites set up), investigated it and took action quickly. So far I don't believe any more reported sightings have occurred and they've been on alert. Undoubtedly we here in Calif have the benefit of seeing what unfortunately has taken place in other parts of the world already with the infestation. And then of course California has a date industry that could be descimated and major losses to a lot of palm nurseries in that part of the state as incentive for action. Where palms are more ornamental, I imagine there is less concern; and funds to research and attack the problem is also a factor in any effort being made (bad time for a bad economy). Definitely municipalities and residences are a weak link, but landscaping companies and nurseries trained field maintenance people to be on the look out for signs and told them what to do and where to report possibilites of it. Importation quarantine requirements got beefed up.

Definitely there's a larger and more urgent push when the local economy is threatened by pests. Here in California we are also experiencing Sudden Oak Death, not from an insect as it turns out. It has been studied for a number of years and was a mystery until fairly recently. As a source of timber however, oaks are an important building material so naturally would get funding to protect that industry even in a down economy. When cotton weevils were rampant and affecting the cotton industry, funds were found to combat that. I kind of doubt that a strong response would have been mounted against the RPW here if the buggers didn't affect date palms at all. Not to say that people would have ignored it, just that the money to combat it probably wouldn't have been as readily available. I'm really proud how California researchers from our university level and the govenment got out in front of this like they did.

I would be surprised to hear that there aren't governmental websites set up in European countries on this subject however. When we were discussing the RPW being found in California I know we had members posting about the issue from their own experience and with links about what was being done overseas. Think I read some of the info on foreign sites where it was in English.

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