The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock is taking steps to curb the increasing presence of rhinoceros beetles in the country using biological control.
Permanent Secretary Jim Saelea said they are considering this with other alternatives.
He said at the moment they are doing a thorough surveillance nationwide to know where actually rhinoceros beetles have spread.
“In terms of control measures to places it has been found, the current one used is only destroying the nests.
“We know for sure they breed from within the ground and eventually fly to prey on the coconuts, so the measure taken is destroying the breeding sites,” Saelea said.
He explained that the proposed bio-control is to use virus agents or fungus to penetrate and kill the beetle.
“The use of imported bio-chemicals in this instance will be necessary, which the ministry has proven to have worked well in other Pacific island countries experiencing similar beetle problem.
“This particular chemical will be injected into a specific insect as an agent, which will transmit to the beetle causing sickness, and eventually will passes on as it interacts,” Saelea explained.
He said consultation with those countries having similar beetle problems and are doing bio-chemical control have been done but requires detailed information.
Saelea said the application of bio-control is not that expensive as some may have thought.
“It’s not that expensive I believe, some countries in the Pacific are using similar method to control rhinoceros beetle.
“But what is strange about the species type of beetle here is, it causes greater or severe impact than those in other Pacific countries.
“Thus the price may vary, I do not know for sure but we will find out later,” he said.
Rhinoceros beetle is a pest of coconut and oil palms; but it also attacks other palm species.
By BRADFORD THEONOMI