Decade-old pest experiences population boom


You’ve heard about the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle, it’s the pest that destroys palm trees. But before they invaded the islands there was the Oriental Flower Beetle and it’s been around for more than a decade.

It’s population has exploded recently leaving researchers confused and what’s causing the sudden increase.

In the last year, the oriental flower beetle population has exploded and as the population increases officials are left asking themselves what’s causing the sudden boom and how can they slow things down?

“We’re not exactly sure what’s happened, what’s helped their population to increase, but more and more people are seeing them,” said Rob Curtiss, Entomologist with the Department of Agriculture. “They’ve been here since the early 2000s, but only until now have they gone through the unusual population increase.”

The oriental flower beetle isn’t new to Hawaii it’s been here since 2002 and now can be seen statewide, but what is concerning is that this beetle eats papayas and mangos as well as other fruits and vegetables. While only considered a pest right now, if the population continues to increase there could be future problems.

“As we’re seeing this population increase there is potential that more fruit could be affected and more farmers and even homeowners could be affected,” said Curtiss.

Like the Coconut Rhinoceros beetle the Oriental Flower Beetle lives in mulch in its larval stage.

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