Beetle invasion probed - Solomon Star News

Beetle invasion probed

19 February 2021
Left is Leonard Ale, a farmer with Biosecurity Officers collecting samples at Baunasaitonga Noni Farm in East Guadalcanal for diagnostic work and verification purposes. [Photo supplied]

THE alleged Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (Oryctes Rhinoceros) attack on Noni plants at Baunasaitonga Noni Farm in East Guadalcanal is now under investigation. 

Officers of the Biosecurity Solomon Islands (BSI) within the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) are conducting the investigation, a statement from MAL Media Unit said. 

Following reports of the incursion, BSI Surveillance officers on Wednesday quickly responded to inspect the damages and collected samples/specimens for diagnostic work.

Chief Surveillance officer, Crispus Fanai said, at the moment they suspect the beetle to be Xylotrupes Gideon, and not the quarantine pest, Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB) as previously alluded by some people.

He explained, according to records, Xylotrupes Gideon is recorded in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.  

“However, we need to verify this with our counterparts in Australia to confirm if it’s a sub-species.

“We have reports of this beetle from a Guava farmer from Aruligho in West Guadalcanal some years back attacking his Guava fruits. What this beetle is doing is new to us.

“Since we do not have records of this beetle attacking Morinda Citrifolia (Noni) we need to do more research and seek our overseas partners for advice. It may take some time to fully diagnose the pest.

“The beetle is active during night times, thus, handpicking and destroying during the day could reduce the damage and population,” Mr. Crispus said.

He assured farmers and the public that the outcome to confirm the beetle species will be made known to the public once the result is available in due course.

Mr. Crispus also urges farmers and the public to call BSI free toll number 131 once they sighted such strange discovery or report to the BSI/MAL so that officers can attend to reports and carry out authentication work than publishing misleading information in the media platforms that could bring uneasiness to our farmers.