Hypothenemus hampei (coffee berry borer)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- 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
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Impact Summary
- Economic 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
- Hypothenemus hampei (Ferrari, 1867)
Preferred Common Name
- coffee berry borer
Other Scientific Names
- Cryphalus hampei Ferrari, 1867
- Hypothenemus coffeae (Hagedorn)
- Stephanoderes coffeae Hagedorn, 1910
- Stephanoderes hampei Ferrari, 1871
- Xyleborus cofeicola Campos Novaes, 1922
- Xyleborus coffeivorus van der Weele, 1910
International Common Names
- English: coffee seed borer
- Spanish: barrenador del cafe; broca del cafe brasil; broca del fruto del cafeto; taladro de las cerezas del cafeto
- French: scolyte des grains de cafe; scolyte du grain de café
- Portuguese: broca do cafe
Local Common Names
- Germany: Kaefer, Kaffeebeeren-; Kaefer, Kaffeebohnen-; Kaefer, Kaffeekirschen-
- Netherlands: koffie bessen boeboek; koffiebessen-boeboek
- STEHHA (Hypothenemus hampei)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
H. hampei, otherwise known as the coffee berry borer, is the most serious pest of coffee in many of the major coffee-producing countries in the world. The scolytid beetle feeds on the cotyledons and has been known to attack 100% of berries in a heavy infestation. Crop losses can be very severe and coffee quality from damaged berries is poor. H. hampei has been transported around the world as a contaminant of coffee seed and very few coffee-producing countries are free from the borer. Its presence in Hawaii was confirmed in 2010 and Papua New Guinea and Nepal remain free of the pest: in Papua New Guinea an incursion prevention programme was mounted in 2007 (ACIAR, 2013) to reduce chances of invasion from Papua Province (Indonesia). There is no simple and cheap method of control of H. hamepi.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Coleoptera
- Family: Scolytidae
- Genus: Hypothenemus
- Species: Hypothenemus hampei
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The genus Hypothenemus was first described by Westwood in 1836 and H. hampei was first described by Ferrari in 1867 from specimens received in traded coffee but he placed it in the genus Cryphalus. It was then transferred to the genus Stephanoderes by Eichhoff (1871). Subsequently and after some dispute, Stephanoderes and Hypothenemus were united under Hypothenemus by Browne (1963) and this is currently the accepted position.
DescriptionTop of page
Larvae - there are two larval instars for the female and one for the male. White, legless, vermiform body with fine but sparse hairs, brown hypognathous head, 3-segmented thorax and 9-segmented abdomen. Well-developed mouth parts. First instar is about 0.6-0.8 mm long, and a fully developed second instar female larva is about 2.2 mm long (Mbondji, 1973; Johanneson, 1984).
Pupae - white, becoming yellow after 10 days of development. Mandibles, eyes, antennae, elytra and membraneous wings are differentiated and easily visible. Female body length 1.7 mm; male 1.2 mm (Mbondji, 1973; Johanneson, 1984).
Adults - males are apterous, stunted and deformed. Females with body 1.4-1.6 mm long and 2.3 times as long as wide, entirely black. antennal funicle usually 5-segmented, antennal club with suture 1 almost straight and partly septate; suture 2 slightly procurved and marked by setae. Frons broadly convex, with a deep, long median groove, surface finely wrinkled with net-like markings. Eyes with slight indentation. Pronotum with fine, raised basal and posterolateral marginal bead, anterior margin bearing 4-8 coarse teeth of about equal size, disc convex, summit rather high, rather shiny, not reticulate, small rasp-like teeth on anterior slope abundant, 25 or more, rather small, posterior area subreticulate, with small, isolated, rather numerous granules, intermixed with some shallow punctures laterally. Elytra with declivity convex, gradual, extending almost to middle of elytra, striae scarcely impressed, strial punctures rather coarse, moderately deep, usually reticulate at centre, each with a minute, non-erect seta, interstices smooth, shining, as wide as striae, with single rows of non-granulate punctures bearing unflattened, slender scales, each at least 8 times longer than wide, spaced between rows by scale length, slightly closer within rows, discal and declival scales equal in width, without additional vestiture (Booth et al., 1990).
Diagnostic features of the female include: the frontal margin of the pronotum has four teeth (rarely six), setae (bristles) erect, at least eight times as long as they are wide, on smooth and shiny elytra. The median frontal suture of the head is long and well defined.
DistributionTop of page
With the discovery of the borer in Big Island, Hawaii in 2010, H. hampei is now present in all coffee-producing countries except Papua New Guinea; the borer has now reached Oksibil in Papua (Indonesia), some 50 km from the border with Papua New Guinea, so its arrival is expected shortly. Nepal has a very small quantity of coffee that is also free from the borer.
A record of presence in Puerto Rico in Le Pelley (1968) was based on a mistaken report (Vega et al., 2002); surveys of the major coffee-growing areas in 1998 and 2002 confirmed that this pest was not present. Subsequently however it was officially reported as present there in 2007 (NAPPO, 2007) and is now widely distributed in the mountains and causes significant losses to coffee there.
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.Last updated: 12 May 2022
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Central African Republic||Present|
|Congo, Democratic Republic of the||Present|
|Congo, Republic of the||Present|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||Present|
|South Korea||Absent, Intercepted only|
|-Canary Islands||Present, Localized|
|Costa Rica||Present||Original citation: Anon. (2000)|
|Guadeloupe||Present, Few occurrences|
|United States||Present, Transient under eradication|
|-Hawaii||Present, Transient under eradication||Present on Big Island in 2010 and since discovered in Oahu in 2014|
|Federated States of Micronesia||Present|
|Northern Mariana Islands||Present|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Transportation of seeds containing the H. hampei borer has been the most probable reason for its spread worldwide. Very few coffee-producing countries are still free of this insect and in these cases stringent quarantine precautions are strongly recommended.
HabitatTop of page
H. hampei is prevalent in tropical regions where coffee is grown in plantations and forests.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details||Natural|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
H. hampei is sometimes reported attacking and breeding in plants other than coffee, however there are few convincing published studies of this with supporting expert taxonomic identification. However, a Colombian study (L Ruiz, Cenicafé, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones de Café, Colombia, personal communication, 1994) reports rearing the borer through to adulthood on seeds of Melicocca bijuga and a Guatemalan study (O Campos, Anacafé, Asociacion Nacional del Café, Guatemala, personal communication, 1984) reports the same for Cajanus cajan. Vega et al. (2012) reviewing older little-known literature including that of Schedl (1960), make the case that the African host range may be broader than previously suspected. As there is much current interest in mass production of the borer, further studies of alternative food sources would be of interest. Nevertheless, all field studies of the borer suggest that coffee is the only primary host and that population fluctuations are hence due almost entirely to its interaction with coffee and not to the presence of alternative hosts.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Bertholletia excelsa (Brazil nut)||Lecythidaceae||Other|
|Coffea arabica (arabica coffee)||Rubiaceae||Main|
|Coffea canephora (robusta coffee)||Rubiaceae||Main|
Growth StagesTop of page
SymptomsTop of page
Attack by H. hampei begins at the apex of the coffee berry from about eight weeks after flowering. A small perforation about 1 mm diameter is often clearly visible though this may become partly obscured by subsequent growth of the berry or by fungi that attack the borer. During active boring by the adult female, she pushes out the debris, which forms a deposit over the hole. This deposit may be brown, grey or green in colour.
Infestation is confirmed by cutting open the berry. If the endosperm is still watery, the female will be found in the mesoderm between the two seeds, waiting for the internal tissues to become more solid. If the endosperm is more developed, the borer will normally be found there amongst the excavations and irregular galleries that it has made. The borer sometimes causes the unripe endosperm to rot, most commonly by species Erwinia, causing it to turn black (Sponagel, 1994) and the borer to abandon the berry.
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Fruit / internal feeding|
|Fruit / lesions: black or brown|
|Fruit / premature drop|
|Seeds / internal feeding|
|Seeds / rot|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
A detailed study of H. hampei populations from 17 countries by Benavides et al. (2005) showed the highest genetic variation was from Ethiopia. Generally though they confirmed the very low level of genetic variability in this insect, but detected enough differences to suggest that H. hampei which invaded both Asia and the Americas came from West Africa. They further suggest that there were three separate introductions to the Americas, two into Brazil which spread to the rest of Latin America and a third into Peru and Colombia. All three strains are found in Colombia.
Gauthier (2010) however, used nine polymorphic microsatellite loci to look for differences between H. hampei collected from 37 sites in 18 countries and found that the global H. hampei community is more heterogeneous than previously thought. Five different sub-groups were distinguished, which are so distinct that they might even be different species. The groups are i) Ethiopian, ii) Kenya-Ugandan, iii) Brazilian, iv) Central America plus Colombian, v) a mixed group including India, Java, New Caledonia and W Africa. Jamaica seems to have representatives from two groups, suggesting that it was invaded twice. The broad category of group v) suggests that Java, India and the Pacific were infested originally from W Africa, perhaps by the introduction of infested Robusta berries in the early part of the 20th century.
Physiology and Phenology
The female H. hampei attacks developing coffee berries from about eight weeks after flowering up to harvest time (32+ weeks). It shows a marked preference for older berries if they are available. The endosperm is the site of oviposition but is only suitable for development of the brood if it is solid, i.e. if it has more than about 20% dry weight (J.F. Barrera and P.S. Baker, ECOSUR, personal communication, 1995). This stage of development of the berry may only be arrived at after about 16 weeks after flowering (depending on ambient temperature). Thus if the female attacks a berry with a young watery endosperm, it penetrates only to the mesoderm and waits in a short tunnel, sometimes for several weeks, whilst the berry matures. Studies suggest that mortality of the borer is high when it attacks young berries, presumably because it is only in a superficial position and thus more exposed to natural enemies and pesticides applied by the farmer (Baker, 1999). Attacks by the fungus Beauveria bassiana may be particularly heavy at this time especially in very humid climates. This is easily diagnosed by the presence of a white powdery patch at the apex of the berry with a dead female underneath.When the endosperm has hardened, the borer enters and begins to excavate irregular tunnels and galleries in which she lays clusters of eggs. These 30-50 eggs develop to adult over a period that may range from as little as 25 days to more than 60, depending on temperature and the consistency of the endosperm. The female stays with her brood and does not leave to start another one in another berry (Baker et al., 1992). When the progeny reach adulthood, the females (which out-number males by about 10:1) mate with their dwarf flightless brothers. Brun et al. (1995) suggest that the mating system is functionally haplo-diploid, so that males contain functioning genes only from their mothers and do not pass genetic material from their fathers to their daughters. Although reproduction is overwhelmingly incestuous, it is possible that out-breeding occasionally occurs when two females attack the same berry and the male offspring of one female finds a female offspring of the other founder female.When the endosperm has hardened, the borer enters and begins to excavate irregular tunnels and galleries in which she lays clusters of eggs. These 30-50 eggs develop to adult over a period that may range from as little as 25 days to more than 60, depending on temperature and the consistency of the endosperm. The female stays with her brood and does not leave to start another one in another berry (Baker et al., 1992). When the progeny reach adulthood, the females (which out-number males by about 10:1) mate with their dwarf flightless brothers. Brun et al. (1995) suggest that the mating system is functionally haplo-diploid, so that males contain functioning genes only from their mothers and do not pass genetic material from their fathers to their daughters. Although reproduction is overwhelmingly incestuous, it is possible that out-breeding occasionally occurs when two females attack the same berry and the male offspring of one female finds a female offspring of the other founder female.
Some of the mated females from the first brood stay in the berry and egg-laying resumes (Baker et al., 1992). Others leave the berry though the number departing and the stimuli causing them to leave, rather than start a new brood, are not yet well understood. A perfect understanding of the fecundity and mortality inside the berry is difficult because the females carry out brood hygiene and may eject dead or dying immature and adult stages from the berry (Baker et al., 1994). This makes accurate assessment of mortality factors in the field almost impossible; the best estimate of reproduction so far gives r = 0.065; R0= 25.0; T = 45.2 (Baker et al., 1992). Intrinsic rates of increase have now been established in relation to the age of the berry on which H. hampei feeds (Ruiz, in Baker 1999). Up to three generations are possible inside the berry though it is likely that the first two generations are the most important. In old dry berries left after harvest it is not uncommon to find more than 100 individuals. It is frequently stated that the borer goes through eight or more generations per year, but with the often slow start to attack and the possible long wait in an old berry before emerging, it is unlikely that many borers give rise to more than five generations per year.
Fallen berries in dry conditions can build up large numbers of adults which are triggered to emerge by high humidity (> 90% RH) that occurs after rain (Baker, 1984). Before emergence the borers are in a quiescent state: more research is needed to determine if this is true diapause or not. Laboratory studies (Baker et al., 1994) show that the borer is surprisingly sensitive to low humidities thus possibly she waits to emerge until after rain so that she has a better chance of avoiding desiccation before she finds a new berry.
The emerged females typically fly from late morning to late afternoon; they are not thought to fly at night. They are slow fliers but are capable of sustained flight of at least 30 minutes and probably much longer (Baker, 1984). They may fly for many minutes around a tree before finally finding a berry to attack, they land on a branch and walk around for many minutes before finally selecting a berry (F. Posada, Cenicafé (Centro Nacional de Investigaciones de Café, Colombia), personal communication, 1996). When different maturities are present on the same branch, there is a strong selection for mature berries with over 25% dry matter content (Castaño and P.S. Baker, Cenicafé (Centro Nacional de Investigaciones de Café, Colombia), personal communication, 1996).
In coffee plantations attack is frequently aggregated towards a part of a field, often where there is shade or higher humidity or a border (Barrera, 1994). If the infestation is not controlled, attack becomes general over the entire plot.
H. hampei favours warm, humid environments such as the tropics, suitable for the growth of coffee. A study by Baker et al. (1992) found that the emergence of H. hampei was low at temepratures below 20°C and humidities of 90%. A laboratory study estimated that the extremes for survival are between 15-32°C (Jaramillo et al., 2009).
ClimateTop of page
|A - Tropical/Megathermal climate||Preferred||Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually|
|Af - Tropical rainforest climate||Preferred||> 60mm precipitation per month|
|Am - Tropical monsoon climate||Preferred||Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Beauveria bassiana||Pathogen||Adults||Ecuador; Jamaica; Indonesia; Colombia||coffee|
|Cephalonomia stephanoderis||Parasite||Arthropods|Larvae; Arthropods|Pupae||Central America; Colombia; Ecuador; El Salvador; Indonesia; Mexico; New Caledonia; Nicaragua||coffee|
|Heterospilus coffeicola||Parasite||Arthropods|Larvae||Sri Lanka; Tanzania||coffee|
|Hirsutella eleutheratorum||Pathogen||not specific|
|Karnyothrips flavipes||Predator||not specific|
|Metaparasitylenchus hypothenemi||Predator||Castillo et al. (2002)|
|Phymastichus coffea||Parasite||Adults||El Salvador; Mexico|
|Prorops nasuta||Parasite||Arthropods|Larvae; Arthropods|Pupae||Brazil; Central America; Colombia; Ecuador; El Salvador; Indonesia; Kenya; Mexico; Peru; Sri Lanka; Tanzania||coffee|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
The two bethylid parasitoids, Cephalonomia stephanoderis and Prorops nasuta have been introduced from Africa to India and many Latin-American countries in the 1980s and 1990s for control of H. hampei. Both seemed to have established, though the latter is as yet unrecoverable from Mexico. P. nasuta was still found in Brazil (Minas Gerais), some 60 years after first introduction (Yokoyama et al., 1978). The current status of introductions to Latin American countries (Ecuador, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Costa Rica and others) carried out in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries has not been well documented however. Intensive efforts were made in Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico to cheaply mass-rear the two bethylids as a potential augmentative control measure. However, research suggest that C. stephanoderis breeds too slowly to be a useful candidate for practical control (Baker 1999). Another bethylid, Sclerodermus cadavericus, occurs in Africa but causes dermatitis and is not recommended for rearing (Murphy and Moore, 1990).
Phymastichus coffea is an eulophid parasitoid that attacks the adult females of H. hampei, producing only one or two offspring per host but ovipositing in about 20 hosts. This is one of very few parasitoids that are known to attack adult beetles. Initial rearing problems associated with this parasitoid were solved by Orozco (2002) in Colombia. From there it was introduced to Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador and India in 1999-2000. Releases were made in most of these countries though reports of long term establishment are lacking.
Heterospilus coffeicola is a braconid parasitoid discovered in Uganda (Hargreaves, 1924). This wasp is of interest because unlike the bethylids it will oviposit in more than one berry, giving rise to hopes that it might have a greater controlling effect. However, the wasp has proved difficult to rear and as yet has not been successfully introduced anywhere (Murphy and Moore, 1990). Despite further attempts to rear the insect in the laboratory in Uganda (Kucel et al., 2004) all the technical hurdles were not overcome.
Apart from these wasps there are numerous occasional predators, including ants, from such genera as Crematogaster, Wasmania, Solenopsis, etc. None of these are thought to be important control agents but more attention has been paid to them in recent years. Perfecto and Vandermeer (2006) found that coffee trees with high levels of Azteca instabilis tending Coccus viridis infestations had significantly lower levels of borer. But Philpott et al. (2008) found little change in predation when ants were artificially excluded from borer-infested trees.
Vega et al. (1999) reported the predatory beetle Leptophloeus sp. nr. punctatus preying on H. hampei larvae in Togo and Cote d'Ivoire and Padi (1999) has also reported this beetle in association with coffee berries in Ghana. Jaramillo et al. (2010) showed that Karnyothrips flavipes, a cosmopolitan generalist predator, attacks the borer in fallen berries in Kenya.
The entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana is found everywhere that H. hampei occurs. In very wet regions such as Colombia, it is a major natural control agent. Field lifetable studies of H. hampei in Caldas, Colombia, which has a continuously humid climate, shows that natural levels of B. bassiana are responsible for up to 80% mortality of adults when they are attacking young berries (>90 days old) and this means that the fungus is the largest biotic mortality factor for the borer under these conditions (Baker, 1999). Other fungi are occasionally found attacking H. hampei, including Hirsutella eleutheratorum, Fusarium sp., Paecilomyces sp. and Metarhizium anisopliae, all reported from Colombia (F. Posada, Cenicafé, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones de Café, Colombia, personal communication, 1996).
Kellerman et al. (2008) showed through exclusion studies in Jamaica that bird-free coffee trees exhibited somewhat lower levels of borer attack than un-netted trees.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Female H. hampei will fly to new locations locally to seek out new coffee berries to colonise. Longer distance dispersal may be aided by the wind (Gil et al., 2015).
It is possible for H. hampei to be accidentally transported into new locations on clothing and tools transported between infected and non-infected areas (Gil et al., 2015). Coffee seeds are also shipped around the world for blending and roasting. The transport of these seeds worldwide is the most likely reason for its spread into coffee producing countries.
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|
|Fruits (inc. pods)||arthropods/adults; arthropods/eggs; arthropods/larvae; arthropods/pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|True seeds (inc. grain)||arthropods/adults; arthropods/eggs; arthropods/larvae; arthropods/pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Growing medium accompanying plants|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches|
Impact SummaryTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
H. hampei is the most serious pest of coffee in many of the major coffee-producing countries. Crop losses caused by this pest can be severe, ranging from 50-100% of berries attacked if no control measures are applied (Le Pelley, 1968). By harvest time the borer has usually not had time to infest both cotyledons of the berry, so that even 100% attack of berries is unlikely to cause more than 50% perforated coffee beans. This amount of damage, however, will produce poor quality coffee and be difficult to market.
The economic threshold for H. hampei is around 5% of infested berries on the tree for intensively produced coffee when chemical pest control is used (Klein-Koch and Miranda, 1990). No economic threshold has been established for cultural control after harvest and in general thresholds are difficult to establish for this pest because the desirable period for control may be several months before harvest. It is difficult to predict weather, flowering patterns, borer immigration, borer emergence from the ground, etc., which greatly affect the abundance and oviposition of this pest.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Tolerant of shade
- Highly mobile locally
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Long lived
- Has high reproductive potential
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts cultural/traditional practices
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult to identify/detect in the field
- Difficult/costly to control
Detection and InspectionTop of page
H. hampei can be detected in the trees and coffee beans.
Tree - inspect the berries and look for a small cylindrical perforation. Look at the lower branches and fallen berries as these may be more likely to be infested. There are numerous sampling methods, many based on counting all berries on 30 or more branches over a hectare and evaluating percentage attack. As yet there is no easy or universal way to relate level of crop attack to future loss at harvest. A figure of 5% infested berries is often used as an economic threshold for field control activities, but more study on this is needed.
Coffee beans - as the perforation on berries may be difficult to see, rub suspect beans between the hands to remove the parchment and look for the perforation. Often a small indentation will be present where the borer started to attack but failed to establish itself.
A trap based on ethanol and methanol has been developed but it also catches many other scolytids. It is useful to monitor emergence flight activity, most notably when rains follow a dry period. French research has renewed interest in trapping as a form of control, initial results have been are encouraging though more research needs to be done to confirm the economic viability of this method (Dufour et al., 1999). Fernandes et al. (2014) found that mass trapping could reduce attacks, but not below an economic threshold.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
It is sometimes possible to confuse an attack of H. hampei borer with that of the 'false borer' (H. obscurus or H. seriatus), but the false borer does not enter the endosperm, laying its eggs in the mesoderm tissue between the two cotyledons. Thus if a small scolytid beetle is found in the endosperm with immature stages, it is most likely to be H. hampei.
Taxonomically these species can be separated most easily by the shape of the elytral setae, which in H. hampei are longer and cylindrical whereas in the false borer they are shorter and more conical with dentate tips (visible under high magnification). Constantino et al. (2011) examine the differences between these two species in some detail.
H. hampei resembles many other species of Hypothenemus and other scolytid genera such as Xyleborus and Xylosandrus, some of which are pests. Ethanol/methanol traps will collect the borer but other scolytids too, hence there are no simple ways to distinguish these tiny beetles with the unaided eye and if in doubt it is best to consult an expert taxonomist (Booth et al., 1990).
Johnson et al. (unda) have prepared a guide to assist the identification of H. hampei from similar bark beetles.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Transportation of seeds containing the H. hampei has been the main cause of its spread worldwide. A few coffee-producing countries or zones within countries are still free from this insect and in these cases stringent quarantine precautions are strongly recommended. Hollingsworth et al. (2013) found that treatment of infested coffee berries at a temperature of approximately -15°C for 48 h provided 100% control of all life stages.
Harvesting coffee berries is itself an important control measure. Rigorous collection of remnant berries after harvest, both from tree and ground, can substantially reduce infestations as it breaks the cycle and leaves little substrate for immigrating H. hampei. Collected berries should be boiled or buried if infestation levels are high. If processed, they should be placed in a drier, or if sun-dried, placed under netting smeared with grease or oil to capture escaping borers. These methods are most successful when done carefully by resource-poor farmers (Le Pelley, 1968). However, such manual collection methods are laborious, especially the collection of fallen berries or those on the lower branches. Studies in Colombia have shown that farmers tend to leave many berries after harvest, especially low down on the trees and that the older the tree, the harder the farmers find it to remove the berries (Baker, 1997). Many experiments have been carried out in Colombia to accelerate decomposition of the fallen berries and on the feasibility of collecting them by manual or machine methods. So far no practical progress has been achieved (Baker, 1999).
There are some suggestions that populations of H. hampei tend to be lower under shade trees rather than in full sun. Armbrecht and Gallego (2007) recorded significantly more predation under shade than full sun coffee. Others however (e.g. Bosselmann et al., 2009) have found the reverse. It is likely therefore that the effect of shade is highly dependent on a number of local factors, for example, Jonsson et al. (2015) found higher levels of H. hampei under unshaded than shaded coffee in Uganda, whereas the reverse was true for the white stem borer (Monochamus leuconotus).
The two bethylid parasitoids, Cephalonomia stephanoderis and Prorops nasuta have been introduced from Africa to India and many Latin-American countries in the 1980s and 1990s. The few studies undertaken on their effectiveness suggest that in general they have only a moderate controlling effect and that it is rare to find more than 5% of perforated berries parasitized one or more years after releases were made (Barrera, 1994). However a follow-up study seven years after a campaign to rear and release large numbers of C. stephanoderis in different coffee growing areas of Pulney Hills, Tamil Nadu, India, recorded 16-45% parasitism from five different areas (Roobakkumar et al., 2014). Generally low parasitism may be because the berries are harvested before the wasps have a chance to emerge, though more studies are needed to explain their scarcity in the field. Both species parasitize only one berry: the female enters and stays with her brood, rather similar to the borer's maternal behaviour. From the point of view of biocontrol this is unfortunate as a parasitoid that lays eggs in many berries might be more effective. Mass release studies of C. stephanoderis in Colombia and other countries have been carried out but the costs of mass production are uneconomical and likely to remain so because of the high cost of the diet (coffee beans) for the borer host.
Phymastichus coffea was seen as a promising biocontrol agent because it attacks adults and thus might help to prevent establishment of the borer in the endosperm, where economic damage is caused. It can also parasitise borers from more than one berry and the few studies on this in the field have suggested that it may be more effective control agent than the bethylids (Baker, 1999). However, to date there are no follow up field studies that suggest it is having any suppressive effect on the borer in the field.
The fungus Beauveria bassiana is found naturally wherever H. hampei is present. In humid climates infection may reach more than 50% and is probably the most significant natural control agent of H. hampei. Pascalet (1939) found it prevalent in the forest zone of Cameroon and concluded that conditions favourable to an outbreak were a dense borer population, 20-30°C temperature, sufficient rain to produce the humidity necessary for vigorous sporulation, followed by one or two sunny days to induce an even distribution of spores, followed by light rains to favour development of spores on the bodies of the borers. Intensive efforts in Colombia, Nicaragua, Mexico and Ecuador have been made to develop an effective mycopesticide based on B. bassiana. Results have been very variable with sprays (with varying concentrations of fungal spores/tree) causing anything from 10-86% mortality (Lacayo, 1993; Sponagel, 1994; Bravo, 1995; Bustillo and Posada, 1996; Baker, 1999). High field mortality of H. hampei in the entry canal of the berry (80%+) have been achieved but only at uneconomically high doses. At lower doses the mortality is usually between 20-50% of adult females entering the berry. Further problems relate to the viability and virulence of commercially prepared formulations of the fungus and the product requires careful quality control and monitoring to ensure acceptable standards. Currently in Colombia, despite a concerted research and extension effort over many years, few farmers still apply the fungus. Benavides et al. (2012) suggest that applying a mix of B. bassiana strains may improve virulence. Another approach has been to inject B. bassiana into coffee in the hope that it might establish inside the plant and act as an endophyte to attack the borer when it drills into the berry (Vega et al., 2005).
More recently efforts to increase the virulence of Metarhizium anisopliae (a fungus which occasionally attacks H. hampei), by inserting a scorpion toxin gene through genetic engineering (Pava-Ripoll et al., 2008).
Vega et al. (2002a) have also studied the presence of Wollbachia in H. hampei, a bacterial infection that may be the cause of its skewed sex ratio. However to date there seems to be no practical way to use this knowledge to devise a novel control method.
In general nematodes would be difficult to apply to coffee trees, but might be easier to apply to the ground under the trees where the microclimate might be very suitable for them. The fallen berries under the tree are known to be a very important reservoir of re-infestation and yet difficult to control either by chemicals, fungi or manual collection and experimental releases of parasitoids suggest that few of them attack fallen berries. Hence what is needed is something that could actively search for an infested berry and tunnel its way into the berry to attack the coffee berry borer inside. Lopez-Nuñez of Cenicafé, Colombia, working with Steinernema carpocapsae (All strain), S. glaseri and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora has achieved infection and mortality of H. hampei in laboratory and small-scale field trials (Baker, 1999). Efforts continue to evaluate its performance in larger field trials.
In recent years there have been a number of studies to evaluate the effect of bird predation (e.g. Johnson et al., 2010; Karp et al., 2013) which through exclusion cage experiments show significant control effects in heavily infested field conditions. The presence of H. hampei in the diet of some birds has been confirmed through DNA analysis of faecal samples (Karp et al., 2014), however less than 10% of birds tested positive for H. hampei. Exclusion studies have also been carried out with ants (e.g. Solenopsis geminata;Trible and Carroll, 2014) which show a significant predation effect. To date though, no long term field experiments have been performed which demonstrate reliable and significant predation from a range of naturally occurring predators. The main difficulty is that generalist predators tend to search for high density prey and may switch away from H. hampei at levels above an acceptable economic threshold.
Thus despite intensive efforts over the last 25 + years, the impact of biocontrol on H. hampei continues to be disappointingly low.
Wherever possible, chemical control should be done in foci (hot-spots) of infestation, before they grow and coalesce. This however requires regular visual monitoring of the coffee fields.
Insecticides can be effective if they are applied when the female is in the entry tunnel before she penetrates the endosperm. They are not effective at controlling mature infestations, especially on fallen berries. As coffee trees are frequently densely planted and taller than the persons spraying them, serious contamination is likely; pesticide poisonings and deaths are reported from Colombia (P.S. Baker, CABI Bioscience, personal communication, 1996). The worldwide ban on previously used chemicals means that most farmers now depend on less toxic alternative pesticides such as fenitrothion, fenthion and pirimiphos methyl (Villalba et al., 1995) though they are often less effective. This has led to renewed interest in ways to reduce pesticide use (Watts and Williamson, 2015). However, full-scale independent field trials followed through to harvest damage assessment for currently available chemicals and biological alternatives are still lacking.
A newer combination insecticide registered for use in Colombia and recommended for use by the Colombian Coffee Federation is a mixture of chlorantraniliprole and thiamethoxam (Arcila et al., 2013). Currently however, the costs of these chemicals mean that they are too expensive for many farmers. A study of the effects of neem, a botanical insecticide and repellent, concluded that efficacy of various commercial products in field against H. hampei is very low due to rapid degradation (Vijayalakshmi et al., 2014).
Integrated Pest Management
A crude version of IPM is employed by many farmers, involving some cultural control and insecticidal spraying. Different schemes, based on sampling and economic thresholds have been developed (Decazy and Castro, 1990), but it is difficult to establish simple thresholds on a perennial crop with a prolonged flowering period and a long berry development period. Further, if a chemical control option is selected, it needs to be carried out many weeks (16 or more) before harvest when the borers are in their most susceptible stage (Decazy et al., 1989; Barrera, 1994). Establishment of an economic threshold is equally difficult when the coffee farmer is unsure of the impact of the post-harvest borer population on the next harvest many months hence. Extensive studies of Colombian farmers attest to the difficulty of adoption of complex IPM regimes (Duque and Chaves, 2000). In many cases a value of 5% berries damaged is used as a ‘rule-of-thumb’ action threshold.
The main issue is that there is no simple and cheap method to control this insect. This has led to the promotion of a very wide range of combinations of control elements which has sometimes resulted in quite complex IPM schedules that farmers, especially smallholders, find difficult to adopt. It is frequently not clear that each added element exerts a significant or cost-effective increment to control. To an extent this is due to the complex nature of the pest, which is cryptic and may have multiple overlapping populations growing on several populations of berries resulting from different flowerings. This situation demands extensive and multi-year research studies which are frequently beyond the budgets of small research facilities of most coffee countries. The prospects for IPM of H. hampei are dealt with in detail in Baker (1999).
Chevalier (cited in Le Pelley, 1968) found Coffea liberica almost immune to H. hampei followed by C. excelsa, C. dewerei, C. canephora and C. arabica in increasing order of attractiveness to the borer. Villagran (1991) found that. H. hampei had difficulty in penetrating the hard exterior of C. liberica berries. However, Roepke (in Le Pelley, 1968) states that C. liberica is preferentially attacked. Extensive studies by Kock (1973) reported C. canephora variety Kouilou (or Quoillou) is attacked less than the Robusta variety.
Villagran (1991) found C. kapakata supporting very significantly fewer immature stages of the borer than other varieties and some tendency for C. arabica variety Mundo Novo also to support fewer progeny. Olfactometry tests by Duarte (1992) showed C. kapakata to be significantly less attractive. C. kapakata appears to be one of the most resistant coffee species currently known but this is not a commercial variety and neither the berries nor the plant resemble a coffee plant to the casual observer.
Romero and Cortina-Guererro (2004) in laboratory studies in Colombia found no difference in levels of antixenosis (deterrence to attack coffee in field tests) of various coffee varieties (including C. arabica Caturra, various Ethiopian accessions as well as C. liberica). However Romero and Cortina-Guererro (2007) did find differences in antibiosis (expressed as fecundity) with Ethiopian accession CC532 and C. liberica both yielding significantly fewer borer progeny.
Gongora et al. (2012) confirmed the inhibitory effects of C. liberica through a functional genomics study using ESTs libraries, cDNA microarrays and an oligoarray containing 43,800 coffee sequences. The results allowed for a comparison of C. liberica vs. C. arabica berry responses to H. hampei infestation after 48 h. Out of a set of 2500 plant sequences that exhibited differential expression under H. hampei attack, twice the number were induced in C. liberica, than in C. arabica. One of the identified biochemical pathways was the one that leads to the production of isoprene. The authors studied the effect of isoprene on H. hampei by monitoring the development of the insect from egg to adult, using coffee-artificial diets amended with increasing concentrations of isoprene. Concentrations of isoprene above 25 ppm caused mortality and developmental delay in all insect stages from larva to adult, as well as the inhibition of larvae moulting.
Hence it seems certain that varying amounts of resistance or antibiosis to the borer exists within species of Coffea. Such resistance to attack or even moderate antibiosis is worthy of further study because an increase in development time and/or decrease in fecundity could have a pronounced effect on infestation levels. Conventional breeding to introduce such inhibition from outside the Arabica genome might be difficult however, hence genetic engineering may be increasingly considered in the future.
A team of CIRAD scientists were the first to succeed in producing a transgenic coffee plant with Bt resistance to leafminers but there is no information about its effect on H. hampei (Leroy et al., 2000). Scientists from Brazil and Colombia (Barbosa et al., 2010) transformed C. arabica by introducing an enzyme inhibitor from the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). Beans have evolved an amylase enzyme inhibitor (or ‘starch blocker’) to make them less palatable to attacking insects. They demonstrated that crude seed extracts from genetically transformed C. arabica plants expressing the α-amylase inhibitor-1 gene (α-AI1) under the control of the common bean P. vulgaris seed-specific promoter PHA-L, inhibited 88 % of H. hampei α-amylases during in vitro assays. Since then, offspring from these GM coffee plants have been cultivated under greenhouse conditions to study the heredity, stability and expression of the α-AI1 gene. Subsequently Albuquerque et al. (2015) carried out in vivo assays of H. hampei development in berries of the transformed plants. A 26-day assay showed that the lifecycle of H. hampei was still completed, though significantly fewer offspring developed than on non-transformed control beans. Other tests showed that gene expression occurred only in the endosperm tissue. Commercial interest in developing transgenic coffee resistant to pests and diseases is still low however and might meet considerable consumer resistance.
Theoretically it would be possible to develop a forecasting model to predict upsurges of H. hampei, because under some conditions, especially after a long dry spell with high temperatures, large populations develop on fallen berries which then emerge after early rains. This however would require regular field monitoring and dissections of sampled berries and the costs of mounting such an exercise are probably too high. However, even occasional and non-intensive monitoring of borer during the post-harvest dry season, could give field technicians a feel for the build-up of populations that could be translated into warnings to farmers in exceptional circumstances. Recent El Niño events which cause prolonged hot and dry conditions, almost invariably give rise to an upsurge in infestations.
Traps with a 1:1 ethanol + methanol lure can be used to trap flying borer. Numbers caught relate quite closely to nearby total populations (Mathieu et al., 1999) so could be used to monitor borer populations. However, the traps placed outside an infested plot catch very few insects, so the power of the trap is low. This means that its use to detect borer flying into a quarantined zone is questionable. For that purpose simply checking coffee trees for infestations is probably quicker, more sensitive and cheaper. This is probably also true for routine monitoring of borer populations. Traps are now used sometimes as part of an IPM control strategy, i.e. for control rather than monitoring (Dufour and Frérot, 2008). Spectacular catches have been achieved in El Salvador (Dufour et al., 2004) and were related to measured declines in infestation. However results can be very variable. Fernandes et al. (2014) deployed 900 traps in four coffee farms and achieved a 57% reduction infestation, but levels were still above an economic loss threshold. It seems likely that traps can be effective in specific conditions, when placed after early rains when borers are emerging and when there are few berries to compete for the traps’ attractiveness. However the proportion of borers trapped to total infestation levels is always low < 5%) so it is questionable whether traps are cost effective, especially since they need regular servicing to replenish the lure, clear debris etc., something that most farmers are not good at. Hence the traps need to be evaluated for specific coffee-growing conditions and results weighed against costs of the traps, their regular servicing and farmers’ willingness to service them regularly.
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23/03/2016 Updated by:
Peter Baker, Consultant, UK
03/07/2009 Updated by:
Peter Baker, CAB Europe - UK, Bakeham Lane, Egham, Surrey TW20 9TY, UK
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