Coconut rhinoceros beetle found at Diamond Head

Third buffer zone created around Diamond Head Lookout

A new invasive pest has been detected on Oahu. According to the state Department of Agriculture, the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB) damages coconut trees and other palm plants.
Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (Photo: Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture)

One live adult coconut rhinoceros beetle (CRB) has been found near the Diamond Head Lookout on Oahu’s south shore, agriculture officials said Friday.

The lone CRB was found Thursday by crews checking survey traps.

This is the first time that a CRB has been found east of the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPH-H) 6-mile zone where the CRB were initially found in December 2013.

A second two-mile buffer zone was created in the Campbell Industrial Park area after a CRB was found in a survey trap in July 2014.

A third two-mile buffer zone is being established around the Diamond Head Lookout.

Beginning next week, traps will be deployed in higher density in the new buffer zone. Additional surveys for breeding sites and damage to coconut trees will also be conducted.

“The detection of this beetle on Diamond Head is of great concern,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Board of Agriculture. “Our crews will step up activities in that area and ask residents to survey their palm trees and also check any mulch piles which may serve as a reservoir for the beetles.”

With the impending arrival of Ana, residents of Oahu are asked to once again watch out for CRB traps that may be blown down during strong winds. Downed traps should be reported to the CRB response team at 679-5244 or by e-mail.

Since CRB was first detected, crews have set about 2,150 panel traps all over Oahu and surveyed more than 95,000 palm trees and 280 mulch sites. About 130 palm trees have been removed and destroyed.

About 1,000 adult beetles, 1,100 larvae and 16 pupae have been found on Oahu. The majority of the CRB detections remains within the 6-mile buffer zone with the golf course at JBPH-H as the center.

CRB is a major pest of palms in India, the Philippines, the Palaus, Fiji, Wallis, Nukunono, American and Western Samoa and Guam. CRB is mainly a pest of coconut and oil palms, but may also attack other palm species. Adult CRB are dark brown in color and very large, measuring 1.25 to 2.5 inches long. CRB larvae are white in color with a brown head.

The beetles damage palms by boring into the center of the crown where they injure young, growing tissue and feed on the sap. As they bore into the crown, they cut through developing leaves, causing damage to the fronds. V-shaped cuts in the fronds and holes through the midrib are visible as leaves mature and unfold.

CRB is native to the Asian tropics, but was accidentally introduced to western and central Pacific islands.

Natural enemies of CRB include pigs, rats, ants, and some beetles, which may attack CRB eggs, larvae, pupae and adults. In Hawaii, it is suspected that cattle egrets and mongoose may also feed on the beetles. CRB may also be killed by two diseases, a fungus and a virus; however, both are not known to occur in Hawaii.

A multi-agency group has been working under the Incident Command System to manage this eradication program. Agencies currently involved include the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, U.S. Navy, Dept. of Land and Natural Resources, UH-College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, Oahu Invasive Species Committee and others.

Suspected CRB should be reported to the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE – 643-PEST (7378).

For updated information on CRB in Hawaii, go to the HDOA website.

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