Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil)
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PicturesTop of page
|Caption||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); adult female (dead specimen). Jordan Valley, Jericho.|
|Adult female||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); adult female (dead specimen). Jordan Valley, Jericho.||©Nasser Al-Jachoub|
|Caption||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); adult male (dead specimen). Jordan Valley, Jericho.|
|Adult male||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); adult male (dead specimen). Jordan Valley, Jericho.||©Nasser Al-Jachoub|
|Caption||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); infested date palm tree. Moshaf Plantation, Jordan Valley, Israel.|
|Symptoms||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); infested date palm tree. Moshaf Plantation, Jordan Valley, Israel.||©Nasser Al-Jachoub|
|Title||Damage symptoms on date palm|
|Caption||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); date palm tree infested by R. ferrugineus. Moshaf plantation, Jordan Valley (Israel).|
|Damage symptoms on date palm||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); date palm tree infested by R. ferrugineus. Moshaf plantation, Jordan Valley (Israel).||©Nasser Al-Jachoub|
|Caption||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); pheromone traps being installed to control R. ferrugineus in Jericho.|
|Control measures||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); pheromone traps being installed to control R. ferrugineus in Jericho.||©Nasser Al-Jachoub|
|Caption||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); trunk injection being used to control R. ferrugineus.|
|Control measures||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); trunk injection being used to control R. ferrugineus.||©Nasser Al-Jachoub|
|Caption||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); cutting and burying of heavily infested date palm to control R. ferrugineus.|
|Control measures||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); cutting and burying of heavily infested date palm to control R. ferrugineus.||©Nasser Al-Jachoub|
|Caption||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); monthly spraying of date palms to prevent infestation by R. ferrugineus.|
|Control measures||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); monthly spraying of date palms to prevent infestation by R. ferrugineus.||©Nasser Al-Jachoub|
|Caption||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); natural enemy. Dorsal and ventral views of Beauveria bassiana, sporulating on the cadaver of a red palm weevil.|
|Natural enemy||Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (red palm weevil); natural enemy. Dorsal and ventral views of Beauveria bassiana, sporulating on the cadaver of a red palm weevil.||©Abid Hussein|
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Olivier, 1790)
Preferred Common Name
Other Scientific Names
- Calandra ferruginea Fabricius, 1801
- Curculio ferrugineus Olivier, 1790
- Rhynchophorus signaticollis Chevrolat, 1882
International Common Names
- English: Asiatic palm weevil; coconut weevil; red stripe weevil
- Spanish: picudo asiático de la palma
- French: charançon asiatique du palmier
Local Common Names
- Germany: Indomalaiischer Palmen-Ruessler
- RHYCFE (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Coleoptera
- Family: Curculionidae
- Genus: Rhynchophorus
- Species: Rhynchophorus ferrugineus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The genus Rhynchophorus contains ten species, of which seven, including R. ferrugineus and R. vulneratus, are known to attack palms (Booth et al., 1990). A key to related genera and the revision of this species was provided by Wattanapongsiri (1966). Reginald (1973) suggested that R. ferrugineus is the typical Rhynchophorus species occurring worldwide. In Papua New Guinea, R. ferrugineus has been described as subspecies papuanus (Mercer, 1994). It is interesting to note that although the species has been continuously described under the author's name Olivier, some papers, especially those from the subcontinent, also indicate the author as Fabricius (Abraham et al., 1989; Ramachandran, 1991).
DescriptionTop of page
The following taxonomic description of R. ferrugineus was provided by Booth et al. (1990).
"Ferrugineous to black, legs paler, elytra shining or dull, slightly pubescent, black spots on pronotum extremely variable. Antennal insertions subbasal, scrobes deep, broad and widely opened ventrally, scape longer than funicle and club combined, equal to half length of rostrum, with funicular segments thick, conical, club large, broadly triangular, usually ferrugineous with 8 to 15 setae on inner side of spongy area. Rostrum in males almost four fifths length of pronotum. In females longer, slender, more cyclindrical; straight in profile, broad at base, apex not grooved, with dense, erect setae, at least subapically in males only, but not reaching scrobes, dorsal surface variously sculptured, ventrally very finely punctured, ventral space between antennal scrobes strongly narrowing posteriorly, gular suture with elongate-oval shape before narrowing to base. Submentum truncately concave with narrowly elongate, median depression, extending throughout its length. Mandibles tridentate distally, all teeth sharply pointed, apical and subapical teeth widely separated. Frons narrower than rostrum at base. Pronotum abruptly constricted anterolateraly, posterior margin broadly rounded. Scutellum one-quarter to one fifth elytral length, somewhat pointed posteriorly. Elytra smooth or with slight velvety pubescence, punctures along outer edges, with five deep striae and traces of four laterally. Procoxae strongly globose, widely separated, mesocoxae covered with soft, reddish-brown setae, pro- and mesofemora not strongly curved ventrally, with setae on ventral side of profemora in males only, tarsi pseudotetramerous, first segment twice as long as second, third with broad, median patch and lateral row of reddish-brown setae, fifth segment as long as first four combined, with nine to twelve setae ventrally. First abdominal sternite as long as third and fourth combined, but much shorter than second, sparsely punctures medially, strongly punctures laterally, fifth segment strongly punctured dorsolaterally, pygidium sparsely and minutely punctured posteriorly and dorsolaterally."
Eggs are creamy white, oblong and shiny. The average size of an egg is 2.62 mm long and 1.12 mm wide (Menon and Pandalai, 1960). Eggs hatch in 3 days and increase in size before hatching (Reginald, 1973). The brown mouth parts of the larvae can be seen through the shell before eclosion.
The larvae can grow up to 35 mm long and can be recognised by the brown head and white body. The body is composed of 13 segments. Mouthparts are well developed and strongly chitinized. The average length of fully grown larvae is 50 mm and the mean width is 20 mm in the middle.
When about to pupate, larvae construct an oval-shaped cocoon of fibre (Menon and Pandalai, 1960). The pupal case can range in length from 50-95 mm and in width from 25-40 mm. The prepupal stage lasts for about 3 days and the pupal period varies from 12-20 days. Pupae are first cream coloured but later turn brown. The surface is shiny, but greatly furrowed and reticulated. The average length of pupae is 35 mm and the average width is 15 mm.
Adult weevils are reddish brown, about 35 mm long and 10 mm wide and are characterized by a long curved rostrum (snout). Dark spots are visible on the upper side of the middle part of the body. The head and rostrum comprise about one-third of the total length. In the male, the dorsal apical half of the snout is covered by a patch of short brownish hairs, the snout is bare in the female, more slender, curved and a little longer than the male (Menon and Pandalai, 1960).
Sacchetti et al. (2006) provides a description of the different stages of development of the weevil and a simplified key for the identification of R. ferrugineus and R. palmarum.
DistributionTop of page
According to Booth et al. (1990) R. ferrugineus occurs from Pakistan eastwards to Taiwan and the Philippines. It is also found in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A specimen of R. ferrugineus was captured in a trap in Palestine (Nasser Al-Jachoub, Palestinian National Agricultural Research Center, Jericho, Palestine, personal communication, 1999).
Flach (1983) reported that R. ferrugineus occurs together with R. vulneratus in Sarawak (Malaysia), Indonesia and the Philippines, but it is the exclusive species in India and Sri Lanka. Hartley (1977) reported the occurrence of Rhynchophorus in African oil palms but did not indicate the species.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Country||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||References||Notes|
|Bahrain||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Bangladesh||Widespread||Tabibullah & Ahmad, 1976; APPPC, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Cambodia||Present||Waterhouse, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|China||Restricted distribution||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Fujian||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Guangdong||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Guangxi||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Hainan||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Hong Kong||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|-Jiangsu||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Tibet||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Yunnan||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Zhejiang||Present||Wang et al., 2008; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Georgia (Republic of)||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|India||Widespread||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Andaman and Nicobar Islands||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Andhra Pradesh||Present||Dhileepan, 1992; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Assam||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Bihar||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Daman||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Diu||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Goa||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Gujarat||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Karnataka||Present||Shantappa et al., 1979; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Kerala||Present||Gopinadhan et al., 1990; Dhileepan, 1991; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Maharashtra||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Meghalaya||Present||Ram et al., 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Odisha||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Tamil Nadu||Present||Peter, 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014; Sadakathullah & Ramachandran, 1992|
|-Tripura||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Uttar Pradesh||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-West Bengal||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Indonesia||Widespread||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Irian Jaya||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Java||Present||Leefmans, 1920; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Kalimantan||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Moluccas||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Nusa Tenggara||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|-Sulawesi||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Sumatra||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Iran||Present||1992||Faghih, 1996; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Iraq||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Israel||Present, few occurrences||Kehat, 1999; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Japan||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Kyushu||Present||Aman et al., 2000; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Jordan||Present, few occurrences||Kehat, 1999; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Kuwait||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Laos||Restricted distribution||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Malaysia||Restricted distribution||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Sabah||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Sarawak||Present||Flach, 1983; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Myanmar||Present||Waterhouse, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Oman||Present||1993||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Pakistan||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Philippines||Present||Copeland, 1931; Braza, 1988; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Qatar||Present||1996||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Saudi Arabia||Widespread||1987||Bokhari & Abuzuhira, 1992; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Singapore||Present||Waterhouse, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Sri Lanka||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014; Coconut Research Institute,1987|
|Syria||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|Taiwan||Present||Liao & Chen, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Thailand||Present||Waterhouse, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Turkey||Restricted distribution||IPPC, 2007; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|United Arab Emirates||Present||1986||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Vietnam||Present||Waterhouse, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Yemen||Present||2013||EPPO, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|Algeria||Absent, confirmed by survey||EPPO, 2014|
|Egypt||Restricted distribution||1992||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Libya||Present||Al-Eryan et al., 2010; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Morocco||Restricted distribution||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Spain||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Canary Islands||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|Tunisia||Present||EPPO, 2011; EPPO, 2014||EPPO Reporting Service No. 2011/235. Under eradication, containment.|
|USA||Eradicated||IPPC, 2015; EPPO, 2014|
|-California||Eradicated||IPPC, 2015; NAPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
CENTRAL AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN
|Aruba||Present||Roda et al., 2011|
|Curaçao||Present||Roda et al., 2011|
|Netherlands Antilles||Present, few occurrences||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|Albania||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Croatia||Present||Milek & Simala, 2011; Milek & Simala, 2013|
|Cyprus||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|Denmark||Absent, confirmed by survey||EPPO, 2014|
|Finland||Absent, no pest record||EPPO, 2014|
|France||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|-Corsica||Transient: actionable, under eradication||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|-France (mainland)||Present, few occurrences||CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|Greece||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|-Crete||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|-Greece (mainland)||Restricted distribution||CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|Italy||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|-Italy (mainland)||Restricted distribution||CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|-Sardinia||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|-Sicily||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Malta||Present||IPPC, 2013; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014||Present: under eradication.|
|Netherlands||Absent, confirmed by survey||EPPO, 2014; NPPO of the Netherlands, 2013||Based on ongoing long-term monitoring of importing companies, 75 survey observations in 2012.|
|Poland||Absent, confirmed by survey||EPPO, 2014|
|Portugal||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|-Portugal (mainland)||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|Slovenia||Present, few occurrences||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|Spain||Restricted distribution||1993||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|-Balearic Islands||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|-Spain (mainland)||Restricted distribution||CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|UK||Absent, confirmed by survey||EPPO, 2014|
|Ukraine||Absent, confirmed by survey||EPPO, 2014|
|Australia||Present||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2010|
|-Queensland||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Mercer, 1994; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Samoa||Present||Kalshoven & van der Laan, 1981; CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Solomon Islands||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Vanuatu||Present||CABI/EPPO, 2010; EPPO, 2014|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
It could be suggested that since the weevil is present in almost all the major coconut-growing countries in the tropics, it does not pose any phytosanitary risk to these countries. However, information is not available on its quarantine status in the countries in which it is absent. Esteban Duran et al. (1998) suggested that R. ferrugineus is among the pests that could potentially be introduced to Spain and other countries of the European Union through imported vegetables. Fitzgibbon et al. (1999) identified the weevil as having potential for introduction and establishment in northern Australia.
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
With the exception of rattan (Calamus merillii) reported in the Philippines (Braza, 1988), R. ferrugineus is essentially a pest of palms. Some ornamentals have also been reported to be attacked by the weevil (Menon and Pandalai, 1960).
Growth StagesTop of page
Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Vegetative growing stage
SymptomsTop of page
It is very difficult to detect R. ferrugineus in the early stages of infestation. Generally, it is detected only after the palm has been severely damaged. Careful observation may reveal the following signs which are indicative of the presence of the pest (Coconut Research Institute, 1987):
- some holes in the crown or trunk from which chewed-up fibres are ejected. This may be accompanied by the oozing of brown viscous liquid
- crunching noise produced by the feeding grubs can be heard when the ear is placed to the trunk of the palm
- a withered bud/crown.
Symptoms ListTop of page
|internal feeding; boring|
|gummosis or resinosis|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
The female weevil lays its eggs in wounds along the trunk or in petioles, and also in wounds caused by the rhinoceros beetle, Oryctes rhinoceros.
On hatching, the apodal larvae begin feeding towards the interior of the palm. In palms up to 5 years old the larvae may be found in the bole, stem or crown. As palms advance in age, the grubs are generally confined to the portions of the stem close to the growing point. In palms more than 15 years old, the larvae are generally found in the stem about 2-3 feet below the crown, in the crown and bases of leaf petioles. The larval period ranges from 36-78 days (average 55 days) (Nirula et al., 1953). Jaya et al. (2000) recorded seven larval instars when R. ferrugineus was reared on sugarcane. However, larval growth did not conform to Dyar's rule.
Prepupae and Pupae
When about to pupate, larvae construct an oval-shaped cocoon of fibre (Menon and Pandalai, 1960). The complete life cycle of the weevil, from egg to adult emergence, takes an average 82 days in India (Menon and Pandalai, 1960).
After emergence from the pupal case the adult weevil remains inside the cocoon for 4-17 days (average 8 days) (Menon and Pandalai, 1960). According to Hutson (1933), the weevil becomes sexually mature during this period of inactivity.
Weevils are active during day and night, although flight and crawling of weevils are generally restricted to the day time. Leefmans (1920) reported that weevils are capable of long flights and can find their host plants in widely separated areas; his studies suggested that weevils can detect breeding sites at distances of at least 900 m. Although Copeland (1931) suggested that the adult weevil does not feed on palms but visited them for oviposition only, it has been reported that the weevil definitely feeds and cannot live without food for more than 1 week. Mating takes place at any time of the day and males and females mate many times during their lifetime. The pre-oviposition period can range from 1-7 days. Oviposition is generally confined to the softer portions of the palm and continues for approximately 45 days. During this period, the weevil lays an average 204 eggs; the maximum number of eggs laid by a single female in captivity is 355 in 42 days and the minimum is 76 in 26 days (Menon and Pandalai, 1960). There is a short post-oviposition period of 10 days before the weevil dies. The longevity of the weevil ranges from 2-3 months, irrespective of the sex. In captivity, the maximum life span of the adult was 76 days for the female and 113 days for the male. It has been suggested that a single pair of weevils can theoretically give rise to more than 53 million progeny in four generations in the absence of controlling factors (Menon and Pandalai, 1960; Leefmans, 1920). In Egypt, El Ezaby (1997a) reported that the weevil has three generations per year, the shortest generation (first) of 100.5 days and the longest (third) of 127.8 days. The study also showed that the fatal (threshold) temperature of the egg was 40°C.
For laboratory rearing of adults, freshly shredded sugarcane tissue served both as food and oviposition medium (Rananavare et al., 1975). Rahalkar et al. (1978) reported that an artificial diet containing sugarcane bagasse, coconut cake, yeast, sucrose, essential minerals and vitamins, agar, water and food preservatives maintained 12 generations of the weevil.
The biological aspects of R. ferrugineus have recently been studied by Justin et al. (2008), Abe et al. (2009), Prabhu et al. (2009), Salama et al. (2009) and Wang et al. (2009).
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Reginald (1973) suggested that natural enemies do not play an important part in controlling R. ferrugineus. There were some attempts in the laboratory and field using the predacious Chelisoches morio in India (Abraham and Kurian, 1973). However, it did not provide a measurable impact on the weevil. Using pathogens may be rewarding: Gopinadhan et al. (1990) reported that a cytoplasmic polyhedrosis virus infected all stages of the weevil in Kerala (India); infected late-larval stages resulted in malformed adults and drastic suppression of the host population. Although various species of mites have been reported in India as parasites of R. ferrugineus (Nirula et al., 1953; Peter, 1989), their impact on the population needs to be ascertained. There has only been one report of incidence of a parasite, Scolia erratica, on the larvae of the weevil. Anon (1976) reported that mites belonging to Macrocheles sp. and Fuscuropoda were found associated with the weevil in the field in Sri Lanka. However, their role in causing harmful effects to the weevil is not known.
ImpactTop of page
Infestations of red palm weevil have a tremendous impact, not only on the economic produce of the palm (dates) but also on society. In the Gulf region, date palm is closely associated with the culture, religion and the life of the people. Approximately 30% of the world’s date production comes from the Gulf region of the Middle-East. Recent statistics shows that red palm weevil infestation may cause severe economic losses ranging between 1 and 5%, accounting for 5.18 to 25.92 million USD, respectively, with indirect losses increasing this figure several fold. The estimated cost saving of the curative treatment of palms in the early stage of attack is US $20.73 to 103.66 million for 1 and 5% infestation levels, respectively (El-Sabea et al., 2009). Menon and Pandalai (1960) suggested that R. ferrugineus is a serious pest of coconut palms in India and Sri Lanka. Ganapathy et al. (1992) observed R. ferrugineus damage in 34% of coconut groves in Cochin, India. Dhileepan (1991) reported that the weevil is a major pest of oil palms in Kerala. Flach (1983) suggested that R. ferrugineus and R. vulneratus are major pests of the sago palm in Sarawak. A relatively recent record of R. ferrugineus in India as a pest on oil palm (Misra, 1998) poses serious implications to some countries in South-East Asia (e.g. Malaysia, Indonesia) where oil palm is a major economic crop. In most European countries, the target of red palm weevil infestation is mainly the ornamental palms ruining the aesthetic beauty of parks and roads. Overall, red palm weevil damage to any type of palm accounts for losses of millions of dollars because the pest feeds on the trunk.
DiagnosisTop of page
Bokhari and Abuzuhira (1992) developed diagnostic tests for the weevil-infested date palm trees in Saudi Arabia. In such palms, the rate of transpiration increased and diffusive resistance and water potential were reduced. All three factors could be monitored to detect infestation by R. ferrugineus. A diagnostic protocol for R. ferrugineus is given in OEPP/EPPO (2007).
Detection and InspectionTop of page
The Davis Red Weevil Detector is an electronic instrument capable of amplifying the noise made by R. ferrugineus larvae (Coconut Research Institute, 1971). This detector is essentially a low frequency amplifier. Conventional light traps do not attract R. ferrugineus (Sadakathulla and Ramachandran, 1992). In Sri Lanka, Ekanayake (in Reginald, 1973) found traps baited with split fresh coconut petioles to be effective in reducing the number of palms attacked by weevils and consequently recommended it in estate practice. The Coconut Research Institute (1987) suggested regular surveys of all young palms up to 10-12 years of age as an inspection measure to detect weevil-infested palms.
Recently, aggregation pheromones have been used to mass-trap or detect adult weevils. Faleiro and Chellapan (1999) reported the use of ferrugineol-based pheromone lures for trapping R. ferrugineus. They also suggested that it was essential to use ferrugineol-based pheromone lures together with food bait (sugarcane) to obtain higher catches of the weevil. Abraham et al. (1999) also found that weevil trapping is only effective if the pheromone is used along with the food bait. A specially designed pheromone trap was described by Maheswari and Rao (2000). Rajapakse et al. (1998) found that the 5L open plastic bucket baited with ferrugineol (4-methyl-5- nonanol)-pentanol, hung on coconut palm stems at 1.5 m caught significantly more adult weevils than ferrugineol-pentanol baited funnel and metal traps. Ferrugineol remained effective as a bait for 12 weeks under field conditions. Hallett et al. (1999) found that trap catches were maximised by placing the traps at ground level or a height of 2 m and that vane traps were superior to bucket traps. Muralidharan et al. (1999) found a significant number of weevils were attracted to bucket traps baited with sugarcane, followed by traps baited with coconut exocarp; date fronds were the least preferred bait. Nakash et al. (2000) suggested the use of dogs for detecting weevils infesting date palms in Israel.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Sacchetti et al. (2006) provides a simplified key for the identification of the two palm weevils R. ferrugineus and R. palmarum.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Integrated Pest Management Programmes
Integrated pest management for R. ferrugineus has been developed and tested in coconut palms in India (Kurian et al., 1976; Sathiamma et al., 1982, Abraham et al., 1989). Included in the IPM programme were cultural measures such as plant and field sanitation; physical methods by preventing entry of weevils through cut ends of petioles and wounds; and use of attractants and other chemicals (including filling of leaf axils with gamma BHC and sand as a preventive measure). Abraham et al. (1989) found the IPM approach very effective in reducing the number of infested palms in Kerala, India. Abraham et al. (1998) suggested that the major components of the IPM strategy for R. ferrugineus are surveillance, trapping the weevil using pheromones lures, detecting infestation by examination of palms, eliminating hidden breeding sites, clearing abandoned gardens, maintaining crop and field sanitation, using preventive chemical treatments, curative chemical control, implementing quarantine measures, training and education. In the Al Qatif region of Saudi Arabia, Vidyasagar et al. (2000a) successfully developed an IPM programme which, in addition to mass pheromone trapping, included a survey of all the cultivated gardens, systematic checking of all palms for infestation, periodic soaking of palms, and mass removal of neglected farms. A review of control strategies and IPM for the weevil were also presented by various other authors (Ramachandran, 1998; Nair et al., 1998; Murphy and Brisco, 1999). Faleiro (2006) has reviewed the issues and management of R. ferrugineus in coconut and date palm over the past 100 years.
Cultural and Sanitary Methods
These include prompt destruction of infested plant material (Kurian and Mathen, 1971) and prophylactic treatment of cut wounds (Pillai, 1987). Abraham (1971) suggested that leaves be cut at or beyond the region where leaflets emerge at the base to prevent entry by the weevil into the stem. Azam and Razvi (2001) found that deep cutting to completely remove the growing point of off-shoots (unwanted growths from the trunk), then treating the cut surface with an insecticide such as formothion or dimethoate and covering it with mud reduced the level of infestation to less than 4% compared to 20% for an untreated control (cut at the trunk surface).
Parasitoids and predators
There is not much information on the advocation of the classical approach for the use of biological control agents against R. ferrugineus. However, Reginald (1973) reported a fortuitous occurrence when Platymerus laevicollis was imported into Sri Lanka from Western Samoa as a possible predator on Oryctes rhinoceros and was found to prefer R. ferrugineus. There have also been studies to evaluate the potential of predators and parasites; Abraham and Kurian (1973) reported that Chelisoches morio nymphs consumed 5.3 weevil eggs and 4.2 weevil larvae per day whereas C. morio adults consumed 8.5 weevil eggs and 6.7 weevil larvae per day. In addition, they provided some information on the biology of this predator in the laboratory and field.
Abbas and Hononik (1999) found that Steinernema riobrave, S. carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis sp. were pathogenic to both larval and adult stages of R. ferrugineus in the laboratory. They also reported that propagation of the nematodes was possible in the adult but rare in the larvae. Laboratory studies conducted by Banu et al. (1998) showed that the larva of R. ferrugineus was host to the naturally-occurring entomopathogenic nematode Heterorhabditis indicus in Kerala, India. Salama and Abd-Elgawad (2001) baited using the greater wax moth larvae and obtained five strains of heterorhabditid nematodes, which were more virulent on R. ferrugineus than the other entomophilic nematode species in culture. However, only two of the strains survived a 24-h exposure period in palm-infested tree tissue. Hanounik (1998) reported that the application of genetically enhanced strains of Steinernema and Heterorhabditis to the larvae of R. ferrugineus resulted in 95-100% mortality in the laboratory and 50% mortality in the field. El Bishry et al. (2000) studied the impact of date palm tissues infested with R. ferrugineus on five entomopathogenic nematode strains in the laboratory. Results showed that juveniles of all strains were killed within 24 h when placed on infested tissues. The washings of these tissues also had a detrimental effect on the nematodes. The dispersal and host finding ability of three of the strains was negatively affected in palm tissues after washing and sterilization. For further information on the use of entomopathogenic nematodes against R. ferrugineus, see Monzer and Al-Elimi (2002), Saleh and Alheji (2003), Saleh et al. (2004), Llácer et al. (2009), Dembilio et al. (2010, 2011), Jacas et al. (2011), Tapia et al. (2011) and Triggiani and Tarasco (2011).
Dangar (1997) studied the potency of a free-living unidentified yeast isolated from the haemolymph of R. ferrugineus as a biocontrol agent. The LD50 and LT50 values for larvae were calculated to be 8,000,000 yeasts/insect and 4 days, respectively.
Other Control Measures
Laboratory tests in India showed that the oil derivative from garlic and its synthetic form diallyl disulphide were toxic to the weevil (Murthy and Amonkar, 1974).
Pheromones and other behavioural chemicals
Pheromones are increasingly being used as a management tool against R. ferrugineus. Detailed protocols for pheromone-based mass trapping of the weevil are provided by Hallett et al. (1999). Faleiro et al. (1999) evaluated pheromone lures for the weevil in date plantations in Saudi Arabia and found that high release lures (Ferrolure and Ferrolure+) obtained from Chem Tica Natural, Costa Rica, attracted twice as many weevils as low release formulations. These pheromone lures were equally effective in attracting the pest and were on a par with Agrisense lures from the UK. Vidyasagar et al. (2000b) measured the impact of using a pheromone-based mass trapping system as a component of IPM of the weevil in Saudi Arabia using aggregation pheromone, ferrugineol, 4-methyl-5-nonanol (Ferrolure) and/or 4-methyl-5-nonanol + 4-methyl-5-nonanone (9:1) (Ferrolure+). Adult weevil populations were reduced from 4.12 weevils per trap per week in 1994 to 2.02 weevils per trap per week in 1997 when this system was used and there was a significant reduction in the level of infestation of date palms by the weevil during this period. In terms of population dynamics, peak adult populations were trapped immediately after the winter season during April and May and a smaller peak was observed during October and November just before the onset of winter. There was a drop in captures of weevils at the onset of winter. El Garhy (1996) reported thresholds temperatures for weevil activity in the range of 12-14°C, with more adults captured in summer than in winter and twice as many females captured as males, irrespective of season. Faleiro et al. (1999) compared Ferrolure and Ferrolure+ and reported that the longevity of the lures was lower in summer than in winter. The longevity of both was greater under shade and when traps were exposed to sunlight; Ferrolure+ lasted longer than Ferrolure. Gunawardena et al. (1998) identified host attractants for the weevil from freshly cut coconut bark and found that a 1:1 mixture of gamma nonanoic lactone 1 and 4-hydroxy-3- methoxystyrene 2 were responsible. Perez et al. (1996) reported that there were no apparent differences between the pheromones of R. ferrugineus and R. vulneratus.
Sterile Backcrosses /Sterile Insect Technique /Chemosterilization
Ramachandran (1991) reported the effects of gamma radiation on R. ferrugineus whereby production of viable eggs decreased with increasing radiation dose, although there was no apparent effect on the F2 generation. Rahalker et al. (1973) reported that treatment of 1-2-day-old males of the weevil at a dose of 1.5 krad (15 Gy) resulted in 90% sterility with no adverse effect on survival. Treatment of higher doses increased sterility but reduced survival. A ratio of ten treated males to one normal one was needed for appreciable suppression of progeny production. Using chemosterilants Rahalkar et al. (1975) reported that treatment of male weevils with metepa or hempa did not result in a satisfactory level of sterility without adversely affecting their survival. However, metepa was more toxic than hempa.
As damage symptoms by R. ferrugineus are difficult to detect during the early stages of infestations, emphasis is placed generally on preventive aspects. However, this is not always possible. The common and practical curative measure is through the use of insecticides. The use of the latter tends to be the major mode of control advocated as seen from the survey of literature. Preventive and curative measures include: trunk injection with systemic insecticides carried out during the early stages of infestations (Rao et al., 1973; Anon., 1976), recently, trunk injection using pirimiphos ethyl also gave good control (El Ezaby, 1997); treatment of wounds with repellents and filling leaf axils with insecticide dusts such as BHC mixed with sand (Mathen and Kurian, 1966; Abraham, 1971); and drenching of the crown of infested trees with insecticides (Kurian and Mathen, 1971). Barranco et al. (1998) recorded the percentage mortality of R. ferrugineus larvae treated with different rates of fipronil and azadirachtin (neem). Hernandez-Marante et al. (2003) reported highest mortality of R. ferrugineus with a combination of trunk injections and sprays with the same insecticide, with carbaryl, fipronil and imidacloprid providing highest efficacy against the pest.
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- = Present, no further details
- = Evidence of pathogen
- = Widespread
- = Last reported
- = Localised
- = Presence unconfirmed
- = Confined and subject to quarantine
- = See regional map for distribution within the country
- = Occasional or few reports