NOUMEA, (ISLANDS BUSINESS) — A new, stronger strain of the coconut-destroying Rhinoceros Beetle has been detected in the Pacific.
Known as the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Guam Biotype, (Palm Killer), it is moving gradually from the Northern Pacific, south into Papua New Guinea and the Solomon islands.
It now poses a threat to Vanuatu and Fiji.
The adult CRB Guam Biotype typically bores into the crown of the palm to eat the sap.
Trees die when beetles destroy the meristem (growing tip).
Information released to delegates at the Pacific Community (SPC) meeting in New Caledonia say this shows that the new biotype is invasive and has spread through five countries in eight years.
Agriculture experts have called for greater public awareness and vigilance by border control and bio-security officials to stop the spread of the new biotype.
Most Pacific islands have been affected by the old beetle biotype since 1909.
The new biotype was first identified in 2014 and poses a major threat to coconut plantations because it is less susceptible to chemical control measures.
By Netani Rika
In Noumea, New Caledonia