Many people are asking, “What can I do about this new pest?”
Government has already begun work with technical experts in Solomon Islands and overseas on scientific solutions to the pest but there are many things ordinary farmers and people can do to help.
The main two recommended actions are: stopping movement to new Provinces (spread) and destroying breeding sites (sanitation).
Everyone travelling from an infested place to a non-infested place has a duty to make sure the beetle is not travelling with them.
Do not move soil, compost, dead palms, or decaying plant material including chicken manure, between Provinces; all these can hide eggs and larva of the beetle.
Make sure the adult beetle has not got mixed with your personal baggage or with your cargo.
The adult beetle flies at dusk and dawn and is attracted to lights.
Ship’s owners and crew have a responsibility to check their ships are free of the beetle before they depart and certainly before they arrive at any port.
The beetle has not been reported from RenBel, Makiara, Temotu, Isabel, Western (except Shortlands) or Choiseul yet. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure it does not arrive there.
Government and Provinces are being encouraged to investigate legal methods of stopping spread.
The adult beetle feeds on living palm plants but it lays its eggs in dead palms, decaying plant material or compost including chicken manure.
It is very hard to treat a living palm but we can destroy the breeding sites.
Damaged palms that are still alive and standing can recover so we do not advise cutting those.
However, we do advise cutting down any palm that is already dead with no fronds.
The beetle loves to lay its eggs in standing rotting palms; these must be cut down and broken up.
The healthy wood can be used for buildings etc. or charcoal and firewood, just don’t leave it lying around to rot.
All heaps of rotting plant materials must be removed, spread out or destroyed, including piles of coconut husks, piles of cocoa pods, dead leaves and branches.
Compost should be turned over every 4 weeks or so to expose any larvae and eggs to birds and chickens.
Sanitation is the single most important thing that farmers and ordinary people can do to help control this pest.
Even rotting plant material around your house should be removed and if possible destroyed.
By BOB MACFARLANE
Government and Palm Industries
Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Task-force