THE Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) officials said on Wednesday they had found a beetle considered to be one of the world’s most dangerous agricultural pests known as oryctes rhinoceros, has been confirmed to be present in Honiara.
The coconut Oryctes rhinoceros is a species of rhinoceros beetle attacks the developing fronds of coconut, oil, and other palms.
Director of Quarantine department Francis Tsatsia told the Solomon Star yesterday MAL confirm the presence of rhinoceros beetle after breeding sites were identified in Honiara.
Mr Tsatsia said quarantine officers investigated further and found adults and larvae of the coconut rhinoceros beetle around Kukum and Panatina areas yesterday.
He said the beetle kills the palms (particularly newly planted ones) when the growing point is destroyed during feeding.
“Larvae do not damage crops, but instead grow in dead, decaying trunks and other organic matter.
“Oryctes rhinoceros is the World’s most deadly coconut rhinoceros beetle which can damage fronds in triangular cuts”, he added
“It is endemic to several countries and the reason it is very dangerous is that its life cycle is very long and it goes into all kinds of food grains,” Director Francis Tsatsia said.
He said quarantine department staff followed up immediately and discovered symptoms of coconut rhinoceros beetle that continues to spread out through east Honiara.
Director Francis said the discovery was made after a member of the public reported strange damages on coconut palms at Panatina and Kukum area.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, they have already set up a task force committee to investigate how far the world’s most dangerous coconut beetle ‘Oryctes rhinoceros’ has spread across the country.
Meanwhile Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Jimmy Saelea has confirmed his officers will go to the identified breeding sites of this beetle and destroy them.
The Ministry is calling for public support in the fight against the deadly pest.
It says any sighting of strange V-shape like symptoms on coconut palms must be reported to the nearest Agriculture office.
Ministerial officials add that the presence of the beetle is threatening the country’s coconut industry and economy.
Earlier this year, the ministry questioned how the pest entered the country is still.
By ALFRED PAGEPITU