Major effort to eradicate rhino beetle

It’s a major pest that can ultimately wipe out our coconut trees if they get out of control.

The coconut rhinoceros beetle was first detected on Oahu about a month ago and there’s a major effort underway to get rid of them.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, the University of Hawaii, and other agencies have placed traps on trees — about 200 so far.

“We’re in the process of setting up several thousand traps,” said Darcy Oishi of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

Some say the traps look like bee hives, or rat traps, or bird feeders. They’re made up of black panels, a pheromone packet, a solar powered light, and a bucket.

They traps have been set up mainly in urban Honolulu. One is hanging on a tree outside of the John A. Burns School of Medicine in Kakaako and three are located at Keehi Lagoon Beach Park.

The rhino beetle was first detected on Oahu on Dec. 23.

“We don’t know how it came into Hawaii. All we know is we believe we found the hot spot for the infestation and that is at Hickam,” Oishi said.

So far, they’ve trapped about 20 rhino beetles, mostly on the military base and a couple on Sand Island.

“As an adult it likes to feed on coconut trees. And as larvae, grubs, they feed on anything that’s decaying, so any compost pile,” Oishi said.

The rhino beetles bore into the crowns of coconut palms when they feed on the sap and the leaves end up growing out with a distinctive v-shaped pattern.

“They’ll start feeding on trees and in really bad infestations they can actually kill a coconut tree,” Oishi said. “An adult female will lay about three clutches of eggs and each clutch will have about 40 eggs.”

Hawaii doesn’t want to be in a situation like Guam or the other places in the South Pacific where rhino beetles are prevalent.

So that’s why the AG officials are working hard to nip this problem in the bud.

“We really would like people’s cooperation in letting us put up traps on their property if we come by,” Oishi said.

So we can all work together to eradicate this major pest.

If you find a rhino beetle or grub, call the State Pest Hotline at 643-PEST (643-7378).

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