Trees cut down at Pearl Harbor to fight coconut rhinoceros beetle

State and federal officials are waging a war against an invasive species that could have devastating effects on Hawaii’s economy.

The coconut rhinoceros beetle was first discovered in December at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Crews are removing 150 coconut trees, most from the golf course there. They’re looking for the coconut rhinoceros beetle and its larvae.

The insect bores holes in the leaves, damaging and killing the trees.

Tree trimming started earlier this week. After the fronds are cut down, workers go through the leaves to look for any of the live insects that might be inside.

So far, officials have found 10-15 beetles and 10-15 of their larvae in these trees.

Coconut rhinoceros beetle larvae
Coconut rhinoceros beetle larvae

Rob Curtiss, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, says the pest can pose a large problem in Hawaii, affecting multiple industries.

“(This will have) large-scale landscape-changing effects on the state,” he said. “It affects palm trees. Picture Waikiki with half the trees that are there now.”

The military is asking people who live and work there to discard their green waste immediately.

“Prevent any kind of nesting opportunity for the beetle. Take away the nesting and you’ll get ride of the beetle,” said Tom Clemens, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs.

When asked if this problem will ever get under control, Curtiss said, “We’re working on an eradication. We think we have it contained to this area.”

This effort will finish in September, but officials say they expect to fight the problem through 2019.

The entire effort costs $4.8 million in state and federal dollars.

coconut trees cut down (1)

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