Paysandisia archon (South American palm borer)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Paysandisia archon (Burmeister)
Preferred Common Name
- South American palm borer
Other Scientific Names
- Castnia archon Burmeister, 1880
- Castnia josepha Oberthür, 1914
International Common Names
- English: castniid palm borer; palm borer moth
- Spanish: mariposa de las palmas; oruga barrinadora de las palmeras; taladro del palmito
- PAYSAR (Paysandisia archon)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
P. archon is a Neotropical castniid species. It is not considered a pest in most of its native range, probably because it lives mainly on wild palm trees and not on crops; however, Houlbert (1918) and Bourquin (1933) reported that it had the potential to become a serious pest of palms. It was accidentally introduced to Europe from Argentina, as larvae hidden in imported palm trees, mostly Butia yatay and Trithrinaxcampestris. In Europe, where it is spreading rapidly, P. archon was first found in 2001 in Spain (Aguilar et al., 2001), France (Drescher and Dufay, 2001; Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2001) and Italy (Espinosa et al., 2003; Riolo et al., 2004) and is considered an invasive species in these countries. It is already an invasive pest in France, Italy and Spain, where serious damage and plant mortality has been reported (1000 palm trees have been destroyed) and has become a pest in Buenos Aires, where it was introduced from north-east Argentina (Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2005). The moth is currently listed in the EPPO A2 List (n. 338) of 'Pests recommended for regulation as quarantine pests' (OEPP/EPPO, 2008) and in European Phytosanitary Legislation in AnnexII/Part A/Section II (COMMISSION DIRECTIVE 2009/7/EC of 10 February 2009 amending Annexes I, II, IV and V to Council Directive 2000/29/EC on protective measures against the introduction into the Community of organisms harmful to plants or plant products and against their spread within the Community).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Lepidoptera
- Family: Castniidae
- Genus: Paysandisia
- Species: Paysandisia archon
DescriptionTop of page
P. archon is an attractive Neotropical castniid moth.
The eggs are fusiform, resembling a rice grain, light cream or creamy pink when freshly laid, and bearing from six to seven ridges.
The larva emerges by gently splitting the corion along one of the longitudinal ridges. Immediately after hatching, the larva is pink. After the first moult, mobility diminishes notably, the larva becomes ivory white, chaetotaxy changes and cuticular spinules appear; all these new traits are retained throughout the remaining larval stages. After emergence, the body length is 7.3 ± 2.2 mm and when fully grown the larva may reach a body length of 9 cm. There are nine larval instars.
The pupae are pale yellowish in colour immediately after pupation, turning a reddish brown after the pupal cuticle darkens and hardens (about 2 days). The pupa is about 5.5 cm. Most of the abdominal segments are furnished dorsally with transversal rows of short spines pointing backwards. When ready to leave the cocoon, the pupa exits by means of these spines and the mobility of its abdomen, and is about two-thirds protruding from the cocoon when the adult emerges (pupal exuviae can be found anchored in the cocoon). The pupa is protected by a palm-fibre cocoon located near the surface of the stype (trunk) or leaf axil. The cocoons are fusiform with an average length of 5.8 cm (range: 7.4-5.2 cm) and are stout with the inner walls smoothly coated by a layer of silk and secretions. The outer walls are loosely covered by fragments of palm fibres, which makes them very cryptic (Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2005).
The adult has a large wingspan of 6-10 cm. It has greenish-brown forewings; the hindwings are orange, with a wide transverse black band containing five or six white cells. The antennae are clubbed with a typical apical hook. Females bear a long, telescopic ovipositor and are generally larger than the males (Miller, 1986; Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2005).
DistributionTop of page
P. archon is a Neotropical species indigenous to South America: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay (Miller, 1986; Lamas, 1995; Sarto i Monteys, 2002; González and Stüning, 2007). In Europe it has been reported from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Spain and the UK (Aguilar et al., 2001; Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2001; Patton and Perry, 2002; Espinosa et al., 2003; Vassarmidaki et al., 2006; Larsen, 2009; Vassiliou et al., 2009; European Commission, 2009; EPPO, 2009a, b, c).
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.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Argentina||Present||Native||Not invasive||Sarto i Monteys, 2002; EPPO, 2014||north-western Argentina|
|Brazil||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|-Rio Grande do Sul||Present||Native||Not invasive||Sarto i Monteys, 2002; CABI/EPPO, 2006; EPPO, 2014|
|Paraguay||Present||Native||Not invasive||Sarto i Monteys, 2002; EPPO, 2014||Paraguayan Chaco|
|Uruguay||Present||Native||Not invasive||Sarto i Monteys, 2002; EPPO, 2014||western Uruguay|
|Austria||Absent, no pest record||EPPO, 2014|
|Bulgaria||Present||Introduced||Not invasive||European Commission, 2009|
|Croatia||Present||Introduced||Milek and Simala, 2012; Milek and Simala, 2013|
|Cyprus||Present||Introduced||Vassiliou et al., 2009; EPPO, 2014||Paphos district|
|Czech Republic||Transient: actionable, under eradication||EPPO, 2011; EPPO, 2014|
|Denmark||Absent, intercepted only||Larsen, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|France||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Drescher and Jaubert, 2003; EPPO, 2014||Departments of Var, Pirénées-Orientales, Bouches-du-Rhône, Hérault and Gironde.|
|Greece||Present||Introduced||Vassarmidaki et al., 2006; EPPO, 2014||Crete and Attica|
|-Crete||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|Italy||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2009a; Espinosa et al., 2003; ARPAT, 2004; Riolo et al., 2004; Porcelli et al., 2005; Bariselli and Vai, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|-Sicily||Present||Introduced||Colazza et al., 2005; EPPO, 2014|
|Netherlands||Absent, confirmed by survey||NPPO of the Netherlands, 2013; EPPO, 2014||Based on ongoing long-term monitoring of importing companies, 75 survey observations in 2012.|
|Portugal||Absent, unreliable record||EPPO, 2014|
|Slovenia||Transient: actionable, under eradication||Introduced||Not invasive||EPPO, 2009c; EPPO, 2014|
|Spain||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Sarto and Aguilar, 2005; Tapia et al., 2010; EPPO, 2014||Catalonia, Valencia Community|
|-Balearic Islands||Present||Introduced||EPPO, 2005; EPPO, 2007; EPPO, 2014|
|Switzerland||Present, few occurrences||EPPO, 2014|
|UK||Eradicated||Reid, 2008; EPPO, 2014|
|-England and Wales||Eradicated||Reid, 2008; EPPO, 2014|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
In Europe P. archon was probably introduced between 1992 and 1998 on Butia yatay and Trithrinax campestris plants from Argentina (Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2001; Riolo et al., 2004). It was first detected over a wide area in the north east of Spain (Girona, Catalonia) on Trachycarpus fortunei, Phoenix canariensis and Chamaerops humilis (Aguilar et al., 2001). It was later detected on the Balearic Islands and in the Valencian Community (EPPO, 2003, 2005, 2007) and is now present at several sites along the Mediterranean Spanish coast from Girona to Alicante (Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2005). It was first found in France in the summer of 2001, near Hyères (Department of Var) (Drescher and Dufay, 2001; Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2001) and later in Languedoc-Roussillon (Department of Hérault) (EPPO, 2003). It is considered established in the Departments of Var, Pirénées-Orientales, Bouches-du-Rhône, Hérault and Gironde on several palm species: C. humilis, Livistona chinensis, Livistona decipiens, Livistonasaribus, T. fortunei, Sabal sp., P. canariensis, Phoenixdactylifera, Phoenixreclinata, T. campestris and Washingtonia filifera (Drescher and Jaubert, 2003). In November 2002 P. archon was reported for the first time in Italy when three adults were observed along the seafront of Salerno (Campania) (Espinosa et al., 2003). In autumn 2003, workers in the province of Ascoli Piceno (Marche) reported damage on palms due to ‘big white’ larvae. Investigations revealed the presence of P. archon in some nurseries of this province on P. canariensis, C. humilis, T. fortunei and W. filifera (Riolo et al., 2004). The pest was then reported in Tuscany (ARPAT, 2004), Sicily (Colazza et al., 2005), Lazio, Abruzzo (S Nardi, 2005, personal communication), Puglia (Porcelli et al., 2005), Liguria (EPPO, 2008), Emilia-Romagna (Bariselli and Vai, 2009) and Veneto (EPPO, 2009a). After a single isolated record, in 2002, of an adult in a private garden in West Sussex, UK (Patton and Perry, 2002), nine live adult P. archon were discovered in the atrium of an office building in West Malling, Kent in May 2007; the moths had emerged from four 5 m-tall P. canariensis palms imported from Spain in October 2006. In addition three live P. archon larvae were discovered at a nursery in North London damaging T. fortunei palms imported from Italy in July 2007 (Reid, 2008). P. archon was observed for the first time in Greece in 2006 (Crete and Attica) on C. humilis, T. fortunei and W. robusta (Vassarmidaki et al., 2006). In 2008 a specimen of P. archon was found for the first time on the islands of Cyprus (Paphos district) on C. humilis, W. filifera and P. roebelenii (Vassiliou et al., 2009) and also in Slovenia on T. fortunei (EPPO, 2009c). In April 2009 one living larva of P. archon was found indoors in Denmark on a T. fortunei plant introduced from Italy in 2008 (Larsen, 2009) and Bulgaria announced the finding of P. archon on P. canariensis also originating from Italy (European Commission, 2009). P. archon is considered an invasive species in France, Italy and Spain.
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous restocking|
|Bulgaria||Italy||European Commission (2009)||Accidental introduction|
|Cyprus||Italy||2008||No||Vassiliou et al. (2009)||Accidental introduction|
|Denmark||Italy||2008||No||Larsen (2009)||Accidental introduction|
|France||Argentina||1992-1993||Yes||Sarto and Aguilar (2001)||Accidental introduction|
|Italy||Argentina||1995-1998||Yes||Riolo et al. (2004)||Accidental introduction|
|Italy||Spain||1995-1998||Yes||Riolo et al. (2004)||Accidental introduction|
|Slovenia||No||EPPO (2009c)||Accidental introduction|
|Spain||Argentina||1992-1993||Yes||Sarto and Aguilar (2001)||Accidental introduction|
|UK||Spain||2002||No||Reid (2008)||Accidental introduction|
|UK||Italy||2002||No||Reid (2008)||Accidental introduction|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
P. archon can be introduced to new areas by the commercial import of palms (Arecaceae) from areas where the pest occurs; the movement of palm trees with passengers; and by natural spread, the adult is a very powerful flier. The pest is spread over large distances mainly through the movement of infested plant material as it can often go undetected.
P. archon was accidentally introduced to the European Community (EC) with commodities imported from South America and it is now widespread in France, Italy and Spain. The risk of a new introduction is lower than the spread of the insect within the EC by internal trade or natural spread.
Several palm species are grown in protected cultivation in the northern part of the European and Mediterranean region, in the open field in nurseries and as amenity trees in the southern region. Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is an important crop in North African countries.
The moth is currently listed in European Phytosanitary Legislation in AnnexII/Part A/Section II (COMMISSION DIRECTIVE 2009/7/EC of 10 February 2009 amending Annexes I, II, IV and V to Council Directive 2000/29/EC on protective measures against the introduction into the Community of organisms harmful to plants or plant products and against their spread within the Community).
P. archon is listed as a quarantine pest in EPPO member countries (Albania, Algeria, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jersey, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, UK, Ukraine and Uzbekistan).
The endangered area is primarily the southern part of the EPPO region (Mediterranean countries, Macronesia, Portugal) where palm trees are grown outdoors as crops or are present in the urban landscape and in forests.
The following countries within the EPPO region and neighbouring countries are most at risk: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece (including Crete), Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestine, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Serbia, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland (Tessin), Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production)||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Buildings||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Scrub / shrublands||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Coastal areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
All known hosts are palms (Arecaceae). In South America, P. archon has been recorded on the following plants: Butia yatay, B. capitata, Beccari, Chamaerops humilis, Livistona chinensis, Phoenix canariensis, Syagrus romanzoffiana and Trithrinax campestris. In Europe it has been recorded on Brahea armata, B. edulis, B. capitata, C. humilis, Livistona sp., P. canariensis, P. dactylifera, P. reclinata, P. roebeleni, P. sylvestris, Sabal mexicana, S. minor, S. palmetto, S. romanzoffiana, Trachycarpus fortunei, T. wagnerianus, Trithrinax campestris, Washingtonia filifera and W. robusta (Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2005).
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Butia yatay||Arecaceae||Wild host|
|Chamaerops humilis (dwarf fan palm)||Arecaceae||Main|
|Livistona chinensis (Chinese fan palm)||Arecaceae||Other|
|Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island date palm)||Arecaceae||Main|
|Phoenix dactylifera (date-palm)||Arecaceae||Other|
|Phoenix reclinata (senegal date palm)||Arecaceae||Other|
|Phoenix sylvestris (east Indian wine palm)||Arecaceae||Other|
|Sabal palmetto (Cabbage palmetto)||Arecaceae||Other|
|Syagrus romanzoffiana (queen palm)||Arecaceae||Other|
|Trachycarpus fortunei (chinese windmill palm)||Arecaceae||Main|
|Trithrinax campestris||Arecaceae||Wild host|
|Washingtonia filifera (desert fanpalm)||Arecaceae||Main|
|Washingtonia robusta (mexican washington-palm)||Arecaceae||Other|
Growth StagesTop of page Vegetative growing stage
SymptomsTop of page
- abundant sawdust extruding from larval galleries on the crown and/or stype (trunk);
- perforated or nibbled leaves (non specific) (i.e., Trachycarpusfortunei, Chamaeropshumilis, Washingtonia filifera);
- gallery holes (axial and transversal) within the stype (i.e., T. fortunei, C. humilis, W. filifera) and leaf petioles (i.e., Phoenix spp.) (observed when cut);
- pupal exuviae on the outside of the stype;
- presence of adults;
- presence of eggs in the palm fibres;
- abnormal development of auxiliary leaf buds;
- deformation and abnormal twisting of stypes:
- abnormal drying up of the palm, especially the core leaves.
Heavy larval attack may kill the palm tree. Infested hosts can be asymptomatic.
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Fruit / external feeding|
|Fruit / internal feeding|
|Growing point / distortion|
|Growing point / external feeding|
|Growing point / internal feeding; boring|
|Inflorescence / internal feeding|
|Leaves / abnormal colours|
|Leaves / external feeding|
|Leaves / frass visible|
|Leaves / internal feeding|
|Leaves / yellowed or dead|
|Stems / dead heart|
|Stems / internal feeding|
|Stems / visible frass|
|Whole plant / dead heart|
|Whole plant / distortion; rosetting|
|Whole plant / early senescence|
|Whole plant / external feeding|
|Whole plant / frass visible|
|Whole plant / internal feeding|
|Whole plant / plant dead; dieback|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
There is very little information in the literature on P. archon in its native area mainly because it isn’t a pest in its native range. This may be because it lives on wild palm trees and natural enemies limit its populations. The only available publication is a short note which contains some biological information (Bourquin, 1933). In Europe P.archon adults appear in mid-May and disappear in September-October, with a peak in abundance during June and July. P. archon males are very territorial and powerful fliers. They fly repeatedly over rather small areas, returning to the same perching place. Long range sex recognition appears to be mediated by visual attraction. It is possible to observe all stages of the pest (eggs, larvae, pupae and adults) during the summer. The adult moths emerge and are active during the hottest part of sunny days. Eggs are laid between the palm fibres, either singly or in a small cluster. The average number of eggs laid in the wild is not known but could be around 140 on the basis of observations on female dissections by Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar (2005). The larvae start looking for food immediately after hatching, and shelter and bore into the host plants. The larvae are endophagous for most of their lives, with only the first instar being partly or fully exophagous. P. archon overwinters as larvae and all larval instars can be found in the palms during winter. Consequently some larvae, generally those hatched early in the season, overwinter once, whereas others will overwinter twice. Cocoons with living pupae can be found from mid-March to mid-September. Larvae can be found tunnelling in different parts of the palms. Early-instar larvae can be found in the stype, within the fruit of C. humilis, or within the leaf rachis (especially in Phoenixcanariensis and Washingtonia filifera). For example, in Trachycarpusfortunei, the first-instar larvae can bore into the young, packed palm leaves. This chewing becomes very obvious later, as the leaf develops, opens and expands, showing a series of consecutive holes on a circular section. Large larvae will only be found in the stype. They tend to bore into and remain within the very core of these structures, where the humidity is higher and the temperature more stable. The cocoon is always located on or near the surface of the stype or leaf axil. The cocoon remains in a cavity at one end of the terminal larval gallery (Riolo et al., 2005; Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2005).
P. archon larvae are specialized feeders on palm trees (Arecaceae). Although they have a well-developed proboscis, P. archon adults have never been seen feeding in the wild or in captivity (Miller, 1986; Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2005).
In its native range the moth lives on Butia yatay, Trithrinaxcampestris and Syagrus romanzoffiana in the ecosystems where these palm species occur. T. campestris is a south American palm native of Uruguayan and north-eastern Argentine savannas and also extends to the summits of mountain ranges of Sierras de Córdoba and Sierras de San Luis. B. yatay is native of Argentina, southern Brazil and Uruguay and grows in arid savannas in subtropical or temperate climate with soft summers and cold winters. S. romanzoffiana is indigenous to southern and south-eastern Brazil, eastern Paraguay, north-eastern Argentina and northern Uruguay, where it grows in monsoonal forests and swampy areas, always at low altitudes. T. campestris and B. yatay are present in Uruguayan savanna. The Uruguayan savanna, also known as the Brazilian-Uruguayan savanna, is a subtropical grassland and savanna ecoregion which includes all of Uruguay, some areas of north-eastern Argentina and southernmost Brazil. The Uruguayan savanna ecoregion extends from the extreme southern part of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to include the entire country of Uruguay, and a small section of the Argentinean province of Entre Ríos. These savannas encompass a mosaic of gallery forests, palm savannas and outcropping of submontane forests. Annual precipitation in the area ranges from 1000 mm in the southern part to 1300 mm in the northern part. The average temperature is 16°C in the south and 19°C in the north. This large ecoregion is relatively flat, ranging from sea-level to altitudes of about 500 m in some areas (McGinley, 2007).
ClimateTop of page
|BS - Steppe climate||Preferred||> 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation|
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Preferred||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
No natural enemies are reported in the literature for this castniid species.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
There are two pathways of accidental introduction:
1) the commercial import of palms (Arecaceae) originating from areas where the pest occurs; this is probably the main pathway by which the pest spreads over large distances as it can often go undetected (international level).
2) the movement of palm trees from a contaminated area to an area free from the pest (national level).
The adult moth is a long-distance flier (Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2005). If an infested palm is sold to an end consumer in a region where there are very few other palms present, it is unlikely that the pest could establish in that region.
Pathway CausesTop of page
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches||eggs; larvae; pupae||Yes||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually invisible|
Impact SummaryTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
In Uruguay, Bourquin (1933) reported occasional damage caused by P.archon larvae to exotic palms (Latania sp., Chamaerops sp. and Phoenix canariensis) whereas native palms such as Butia yatay and Trithrinax campestris appeared to be more tolerant to attack by the pest. At present P. archon is very rare in its native range (Sarto i Montey and Aguilar, 2005); however, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, many palm trees that are not native to this area have been killed or are dying because of P. archon larvae (Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2005).
In Europe, severe damage and plant mortality has been reported in Italy, France and Spain (Aguilar et al., 2001; Drescher and Dufay, 2001; Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2001; Riolo et al., 2004). In some nurseries in Marche, Italy, damage has led to a 90% loss of production on Chamaerops humilis, Washingtonia filifera, Trachycarpus fortunei and P. canariensis (Riolo et al., 2005). In Italy, France and Spain palm trees infested by P. archon have also been observed in urban areas (Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2005; Porcelli et al. 2006; P Riolo, 2006, personal communication). Some stands of native C. humilis were found to be infested on the Balearic islands in 2003 (Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2005).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
P. archon can attack palms present as amenity trees in the Mediterranean region and can threaten palm forests (e.g. the Elche palm forest in Spain, which is a UNESCO site) and palms in historical parks and collections. Date palm, a host plant for P. archon, is the most characteristic species of vegetation in oases. Nevertheless, habitat impacts have not been recorded in areas where the pest is present.
Impact on Biodiversity
P. archon could be a threat to the subtropical species Phoenix canariensis which is native to the Canary Islands, and to the two European palm species Phoenix theophrasti and Chamaerops humilis (Montagud Alario, 2004). In the coastal regions of the eastern Canary Islands, where many species are related to the flora of Sahara desert, P. canariensis is part of the natural vegetation. P. theophrasti is native to Greece (Crete) and Turkey (registered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species) (Johnson, 1998). C. humilis is distributed along the Mediterranean Basin, which stretches from Portugal east to Jordan and from northern Italy south to Morocco and includes parts of Spain, France, the Balkan states, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria, as well as around 5000 islands scattered around the Mediterranean Sea (Caley, 2008).
There are no reports on the impact on biodiversity caused P. archon in its current area of distribution.
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
Social ImpactTop of page
P. archon can attack palm trees and may, thereby, decrease the recreational value of landscapes, private gardens, historical palm sites and botanical gardens. Damage to palms in urban areas could lead to security problems due to the possible collapse of palm parts (stype, leaves, etc.). Date palm production is important from North Africa to the Persian Gulf. Impacts are not reported on this crop, but if damage does occur, it could affect lifestyle.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Highly mobile locally
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Host damage
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts tourism
- Threat to/ loss of endangered species
- Negatively impacts trade/international relations
- Interaction with other invasive species
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
DiagnosisTop of page
European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (2011) describes a diagnostic protocol for P. archon.
Detection and InspectionTop of page
The larvae of P. archon are internal feeders, not easy to detect, and symptom expression is not the same on different palm tree species.
Damage is observed at different levels of the palm tree: leaves, rachis and stype:
- inspect the crown and stype for sawdust;
- inspect the leaves for perforations (non specific);
- inspect the palm for pupal exuviae on the outside of the stype;
- inspect the palm fibres for eggs.
As P. archon cannot readily be detected in consignments of young palms, phytosanitary measures to prevent its introduction should concentrate on ensuring the absence of the pest at the place of production. The following possibilities have been considered: origin from a pest-free area, origin from a pest-free place of production (pest-free for at least 2 years), plants produced under suitable protected conditions (e.g. under a net) or various combinations of these measures. In addition, countries in which P. archon is already present should apply phytosanitary measures to suppress and contain existing outbreaks (OEPP/EPPO, 2008).
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
In Europe P. archon is the only species of the Castniidae family (Lopez Vaamonde et al., 2010).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
P. archon is listed in the EPPO A2 List of ‘Pests recommended for regulation as quarantine pests’. As P. archon cannot readily be detected in consignments of young palms, phytosanitary measures to prevent its introduction should concentrate on ensuring the absence of the pest at the place of production. The following possibilities have been considered: origin from a pest-free area, origin from a pest-free place of production (since at least 2 years), plants produced under suitable protected conditions (e.g. under a net), or various combinations of these measures. In addition, countries in which P. archon is already present should apply phytosanitary measures to suppress and contain existing outbreaks (OEPP/EPPO, 2008).
According to Council Directive 2000/29/EC all imported consignments of plants and plant products requiring a Phytosanitary Certificate have to be inspected by the Plant Protection Services in order to prevent the introduction of harmful organisms with the imported commodities.
Eradication is difficult because the larvae develop within the host plant for 1-2 years. Also, the adult moths can fly away. Economically speaking, eradication measures are expensive and in some cases imply the destruction of the host plant/s.
The biological characteristics of P.archon make its control difficult (the larvae is endophagous except for a very short time from eclosion to entering the host plant). As P. archon is not a pest in its native range, no control methods have been developed there.
An original approach proposed by scientists at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) consists of coating the sensitive part of the stype with a glue that acts as a physical barrier between the tree and P.archon (Peltier, 2007).
P. archon is listed in European Phytosanitary Legislation in AnnexII/Part A/Section II (COMMISSION DIRECTIVE 2009/7/EC of 10 February 2009 amending Annexes I, II, IV and V to Council Directive 2000/29/EC on protective measures against the introduction into the Community of organisms harmful to plants or plant products and against their spread within the Community) as ‘Pests, known to occur in the European Union, whose introduction into, and/or whose spread within all European Union member States is prohibited, with reference to specific plants or plant products’: ‘Plants of Palmae intended for planting having a diameter of the stem at the base of over 5 cm and belonging to the following genera: Brahea, Butia, Chamaerops, Jubaea, Livistona, Phoenix, Sabal, Syagrus, Trachycarpus, Trithrinax, Washingtonia’.It is required an official statement (Annex IV, Part A, Section I)that plants: (a) have been grown throughout their life in a country where P. archon is not known to occur; or (b) have been grown throughout their life in an area free from P. archon, established by the national plant protection organisation in accordance with relevant International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures; or (c) have, during a period of at least 2 years prior to export, been grown in a place of production:
- which is registered and supervised by the national plant protection organisation in the country of origin, and
- where the plants were placed in a site with complete physical protection against the introduction of P. archon or with application of appropriate preventive treatments, and
- where, during three official inspections per year carried out at appropriate times, including immediately prior to export, no signs of P. archon have been observed.
Preventive and curative field trials carried out in Italy and Spain in order to evaluate the efficacy of the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae showed a very high efficacy (Sanchez and Clemente, 2007; Martinez de Altube and Martinez Peña, 2009; Nardi et al., 2009).
Laboratory trials with a strain of the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana (strain Bb 147) have been conducted in France and have shown good results (Millet et al., 2007; Besse-Millet et al., 2008).
Good results were obtained in Spain by wetting the palm crown and stype with contact and/or systemic chemical insecticides (Sarto i Monteys and Aguilar, 2005). In Italy, the Marche Plant Protection Service observed that foliar applications of chemical insecticides over a 3 year period (2005-2007) had difficulty reaching endophagous P. archon larvae (Nardi et al., 2009). Tree injections of insecticides have also been used against this pest in Europe (Reid and Moran, 2009).
It should be stressed that the availability of products containing these active substances varies nationally. In addition it is difficult to develop insecticide treatments that can be used on palms in public areas (parks and gardens).
ReferencesTop of page
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ContributorsTop of page
09/03/10 Original text by:
P Riolo, Marche Polytechnic University, Section of Plant Protection, 60131 Ancona, Italy
Sandro Nardi, ASSAM, Regional Phytosanitary Service, Via Alpi, 21 - Ancona, Italy
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