Red Palm Weevil completely eliminated from Laguna Beach, California

Jan 30, 2015

Initiative was a joint effort by USDA, CDFA and others

By Diego Flammini,

The Red Palm Weevil, a large beetle considered to be one of the most deadly pests to palm trees, has been officially eradicated from Laguna Beach in Orange County, California.

The effort to remove the beetle from the palm trees and educate the public about what it’s capable of was a joint mission by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), the Orange County Agricultural Commissioner, the University of California, Riverside, and University of California Cooperative Extension.

“This pest is a serious threat to our nursery growers and palm date farmers,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross in a press release. “It endangers all of the decorative palms that are common in our landscape and part of the classic California image.  A special thank you goes out to the local arborist who originally reported this pest (in October of 2010). That gave us a valuable head-start.”

Date production in California is estimated to be a $30 million industry.

International standards say a period of three years without the detection of any Red Palm Weevils is needed to say the insect has been eradicated. The last beetle was detected on January 28, 2012.

The adult Red Palm Weevil can grow up to 5cm long. Some distinguishable markings on the insect include what looks like a long snout and red coloration with black marks.

Symptoms of an infected tree include:

  • Presence of tunnels on the drunk
  • Plants may have a “gnawing” sound coming from it, representing the feeding going on inside
  • Viscous fluids oozing from tunnels
  • Appearance of chewed plant material
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