Mulch to be incinerated in attempt to eradicate coconut rhinoceros beetle

Agriculture officials are preparing for the next step in the battle to eradicate the coconut rhinoceros beetle, a destructive pest threatening to destroy the island’s coconut trees.

The beetle was discovered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in December and has since been spotted as far away as Campbell Industrial Park.

The next step focuses on mulch, which is a breeding ground for the invasive species, and the infested piles that are located at Pearl Harbor.

“Every mulch pile we can identify, every infested tree that we can identify, we’re going to destroy,” said Rob Curtiss, pest control branch manager for the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

There are a few methods of destroying these piles, but the most effective is to incinerate them.

“The incineration is a much faster way and there’s no way for the incinerated areas of becoming re-infested because they are gone,” said Curtiss.

So will it work?

“For the long run, burning will help and it will also help in the short-term because we can get rid of these areas immediately and then the beetle cant go back and re-infest,” said Curtiss.

Curtiss says that if you do have mulch piles, that you should look into getting rid of them because they do serve as a breeding ground.

“It’s a double-edged sword in the way we want to encourage people to be green, but at the same time we don’t want to encourage an invasive species. So for many years, we’re going to have to be destroying mulch piles,” said Curtiss.

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