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Plantwise Factsheets for Farmers

Palm weevil

Rhynchophorus palmarum
Trinidad and Tobago

Recognize the problem

These insects live inside of palm plants and destroy them. They also spread the nematode that causes the red ring disease.
The weevils cause the crown leaves to dry and turn yellow. The new leaves and the flowers die. The red ring can be seen when the stems of infected plants are cut. In the late stage of infestation the plant gives off a bad smell.

Background

The female weevil lays white eggs one or two millimetres deep inside the flesh of the plant near the crown.
The egg hatches into a fat creamy white worm (larva) with a black head. The worm grows to about 5 to 6 centimetres (2 inches).
The worms only live inside the trunk of the palm. The worms dig tunnels as they eat their way through the trunk of the palm.
The adult weevil is about 4 to 5 centimetres (1.5-2 inches) long and has a small round head, a curved beak-like mouth and the body is covered by a hard, black outer shell and wings.
The palm weevil infestation is often only noticed when the plant is already heavily infested and is about to die.

Management

  • Avoid moving infected plants or planting material.
  • Use a tree killer or systemic weedicide to kill and dry infected palms.
  • Then burn the dead tree to kill the worms inside.
  • Use an insecticidal soap or common salt to kill beetles in trees that are not too tall.

When using a pesticide, always wear protective clothing and follow the instructions on the product label, such as dosage, timing of application, and pre-harvest interval.

The recommendations in this factsheet are relevant to: Trinidad and Tobago

Authors: Casey-Marie Boucher
Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment
tel: 1868-6471167 email: ianragri@yahoo.com
©CAB International. Published under a CC-BY-SA 4.0 licence.

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