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Current status of the coconut beetle outbreaks
in the Asia-Pacific region

P. Rethinam and S.P. Singh*

Abstract

Approximately 1 000 species of insects are associated with coconut worldwide. Over 40 species of coleopteran pests have been recorded – most are under effective natural control but some require interventions. Brontispa longissima is native to Indonesia and also to Papua New Guinea, including the Bismarck Archipelago, where it seldom causes serious problems. It has now migrated to Asia, Australasia and the Pacific Islands attacking not only coconut palm but also cultivated and wild palms. Recently, it has spread to Singapore, Viet Nam, Nauru, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Maldives, Myanmar and Hainan Island (China). In the absence of natural antagonists it has become a devastating pest. It is feared that Brontispa longissima will find its way from Maldives to Sri Lanka and southern parts of India, thus derailing the economy of these important coconut-growing regions. In this context, emergency operations are necessary to try to destroy it in the Maldives and in other invaded countries. A number of natural enemies have been recorded. Biological control via the introduction and enhancement of parasitoids has been very effective. Similarly spraying of improved strains of the entomofungal pathogen Metarhizium anisopliae has met with success. Exploratory surveys for parasitoids in the original home of B. longissima are suggested.

Chemical control has been recommended, but most of the insecticides recommended earlier have been phased out owing to their harmful side effects. Though difficult to implement, use of tolerant cultivars, adoption of phytosanitary measures and imposition of strict quarantine measures are also recommended. In addition, relatively safer pesticides could also be used to combat the pest before biological control becomes operative and effective. An international network project is required to develop effective management, raise awareness and to train the coconut growers in implementing Bio-intensive Integrated Pest Management (BIPM) of B. longissima.

Introduction

The coconut palm (Cocos nucifera L.) has many uses and is an important crop in the tropics, supporting the livelihoods of millions of people. Global production of coconut is around 61.16 billion nuts from an area of 12.06 million hectares. It is grown in over 93 countries and India ranks first in terms of productivity. Nearly 88 percent of annual production occurs in APCC (Asia and Pacific Coconut Community) countries – the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Kiribati, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Samoa and Marshall Islands. Approximately 78 percent of global production is contributed by Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka. Generally, coconut growers are small and marginalized with holdings of less than one hectare. The average productivity of coconut-growing countries is 4 930 nuts/hectare, which could be enhanced to more than 10 000 nuts/hectare through optimum plant and soil health management. About 1 000 species of insects worldwide are associated with coconut. In several cases insect pests are major constraints to enhancing productivity. Coleopteran pests cause varying degrees of damage in different countries.

Coleopteran pests

The major coleopteran pests are listed in Table 1.

Table 1. Major coleopteran pests of coconut

Name of the pest

Geographical distribution

Pest status

Family: Scarabaeidae

Oryctes boas Fabricius
(Rhinoceros beetle)

Confined to Africa

Major

Oryctes monoceros (Olivier)
(Coconut beetle)

Widespread in Africa; Middle East

Major

Oryctes rhinoceros (Linnaeus)
(Asiatic rhinoceros beetle)

Endemic to South and Southeast Asia; Oceania; Africa

Major

Scapanes australis Boisduval
(Melanesian rhinoceros beetle)

Southeast Asia; Oceania

Primary/major

Strategus aloeus (Linnaeus)
(Coconut cockle)

Western Hemisphere

Primary

Strategus anachoreta Burmeister

Trinidad and Tobago; Cuba

Primary

Strategus jugurtha Burmeister

Western Hemisphere (Guyana)

Primary

Strategus quadrifoveatus
(Palisot de Beauvois)

Western Hemisphere (Haiti; Dominican Republic; Puerto Rico)

Primary

Leucopholis coneophora Burmeister

India

Major, occasionally serious

Family: Chrysomelidae

Brontispa longissima Gestro
(Coconut hispine beetle)

Southeast Asia; Oceania; Australasia

Major

Plesispa reichei Chapuis
(Coconut hispid)

Southeast Asia; Oceania

Primary

Promecotheca caerulipennis Blanchard (Fiji coconut hispid)

Oceania (mainly Fiji); Hawaii

Major

Promecotheca cumingii Baly (coconut leafminer)

Sri Lanka; Southeast Asia

Major

Promecotheca papuana Csiki (coconut leafminer)

Indonesia; Oceania

Major

Cholus zonatus (Swederus)

Western Hemisphere

Primary

Rhinostomus barbirostris (Fabricius) (Bearded weevil)

South America; West Indies

Primary

Rhynchophorus bilineatus (Montrouzier) (black palm weevil)

Indonesia; Oceania

Primary

Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Olivier) (Asiatic palm weevil)

South and Southeast Asia; Middle East; Oceania; Africa

Major

Rhynchophorus palmarum (Linnaeus) (South American palm weevil)

Confined to New World

Major

Rhynchophorus phoenicis (Fabricius) (African palm weevil)

Widespread in Africa

Major

Family: Cleridae

Necrobia rufipes
(De Geer)

India; Southeast Asia; Africa

Serious in storage

Family: Silvanidae

Oryzaephilus mercator (Fauvel)
(Merchant grain beetle)

Widely distributed in warm temperate and tropical regions

Major in storage

Family: Bruchidae

Pachymerus nucleorum (Fabricius) (Coconut borer)

Western Hemisphere

Primary

Most coleopteran pests are under effective natural control but some require interventions. Controls for Oryctes rhinoceros include baculovirus, habitat management (cover crop and destruction of breeding sites), introduction of Metarhizium anisopliae in breeding grounds, mass trapping of adult beetles in pheromone/coconut sawdust/castor cake slurry traps, use of naphthalene balls in young plantations and application of safer pesticides (CFC/DFID/APCC/FAO 2004; Singh and Rethinam 2004 a;b). This paper considers the coconut hispine beetle, Brontispa longissima (Gestro).

Distribution of Brontispa longissima

DEVELOPING AN ASIA-PACIFIC STRATEGY
FOR FOREST INVASIVE SPECIES:
THE COCONUT BEETLE PROBLEM –
BRIDGING AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY

Figure 1. Top, Brontispa longissima, adult and damage Bottom, Severly damaged coconut tree

Brontispa longissima is native to Indonesia (Aru Islands, Maluku Province and possibly Papua Province, formerly Irian Jaya) and also to Papua New Guinea, including the Bismarck Archipelago, where it seldom causes serious problems (Figure 1). It is now distributed in Asia, Australia and Pacific Islands attacking not only coconut palm but also several other palm species (Figure 2). Brontispa longissima has reached Ari Atol in Maldives from where it could easily spread to Sri Lanka and southern parts of India, if not contained. In Australia it has been recorded in 27 native and exotic palms. Lack of strict quarantine on the movement of palms (particularly ornamentals) is considered as a major factor in the spread of B. longissima.

DEVELOPING AN ASIA-PACIFIC STRATEGY
FOR FOREST INVASIVE SPECIES:
THE COCONUT BEETLE PROBLEM –
BRIDGING AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY

Figure 2. Distribution of Brontispa longissima

Development of Brontispa longissima

Brontispa longissima is one of the most thoroughly studied pests in Indonesia, with work undertaken in Bogor, as well as Bulukumba and Manado (Franssen and Tjoa 1952).

Adult females lay their 1.4 mm long and 0.5 mm wide brown flat eggs in the still-folded leaflets of both young and mature coconut palms. The eggs are surrounded by debris and excrement, and laid longitudinally in rows of an excavated area of leaf tissue. They hatch in a minimum and maximum period of 3 - 4 and 4 - 7 days respectively.

The whole cycle from egg to adult occupies about five to seven weeks in Java and Sulawesi (Kalshoven 1981; Lever 1969), but can extend to nine weeks in other (presumably cooler) places.

The adult beetle (7.5 to 10 mm long and 1.5 to 2 mm wide) matures two weeks after emergence from the pupa. It lives for two to three months. The female on average lays 120 eggs in the course of several weeks (Kalshoven 1981), which produce 40 larvae. The beetles are nocturnal and fly well. They always live in the still-folded leaflets and move outside only to infest the nearby palms or for mating.

Nature and extent of damage

The larvae and adults of B. longissima shun light. They feed on the mesophyll of both surfaces of the closely oppressed leaflets and both stages gnaw long incisions in the tissues, parallel to one another and in the veins of leaflets leaving longitudinal white streaks. Light attacks result in minor leaf injury, and a slight decrease in fruiting at the axils of the damaged leaves. Fruit production is significantly reduced, if eight or more leaves per palm are destroyed.

When the insects are numerous, the incisions are so close to one another that whole of the attacked part of the leaflets is similarly injured and photosynthesis is reduced to zero.

As noted earlier, B. longissima has spread to a number of different countries. In the absence of natural antagonists it has become a devastating pest. For example, in parts of Viet Nam, production loss for related industries is approaching 50 percent and there are many dead trees.

It is feared that the beetle will also attack other palm species and may reach Sri Lanka and southern parts of India where it will derail the economy of these important coconut-growing regions. Thus emergency operations are necessary to try to eradicate it in the Maldives and other invaded countries.

The spread of B. longissima and other coconut pests in Oceania is mainly attributed to human activities (Dharmaraju 1984).

Factors governing abundance

Dry periods favour the development of Brontispa populations (Bariyah and Baringbing 1987; Tjoa 1953; Kalshoven 1981).

Two- to three-year-old young palms attract the pest. The heartleaves of older trees are firmer and become less suitable as breeding grounds and are not penetrated by the beetles.

Stunted palms with less compact hearts are more susceptible to Brontispa attacks. Strong monsoon winds reduce the abundance of parasitic wasps, which trigger pest attacks.

Natural enemies of Brontispa longissima

The natural enemies of B. longissima are presented in Table 2.

Table 2. Natural enemies of Brontispa longissima

Species
(Order: Family)

Reported locations

Remarks and references

Egg parasitoids

Hispidophila (Haeckeliana)
brontispae Ferriere (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae)

Java, Indonesia

Described in 1931, one wasp/Brontispa egg; parasitized 15 percent eggs in the field (Kalshoven 1981).

Ooencyrtus podontiae Gahan
(Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae)

Java, Indonesia

Parasitized 10 percent eggs (Kalshoven 1981). In 1941, Brontispa eggs, parasitized by Ooencyrtus were introduced from Bogor. Introduced to several countries for evaluation, recorded in Malaysia.

Trichogrammatoidea nana Zehntner
(Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae)

Java, Indonesia

Described in 1896, a successful egg parasitoid of Brontispa and several other coconut pests. Native to Java (Indonesia); introduced to Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

Larval/pupal parasitoids

Tetrastichus brontispae Ferriere
(Hymenoptera: Eulophidae)

Java, Indonesia

Found in 60 - 90 percent of the pupae and 10 percent of the larvae (Kalshoven 1981). Considered a most effective species, widely introduced in the Pacific Islands for the control of Brontispa.

Asecodes hispinarum Boucek
(Hymenoptera: Eulophidae)

Larval parasitoid of Brontispa, collected from Samoa and released in Nauru, Thailand, Viet Nam and Maldives.

Chrysonotomyia sp.
(Hymenoptera: Eulophidae)

Samoa

The parasitoid was the most important cause of larval mortality, parasitizing 75 percent of the fourth instar larvae collected from Samoa.

Entomopathogenic fungi

Metarhizium anisopliae (Metchnikoff) Sorokin (Moniliales: Moniliaceae) (Figure 3)

Samoa

Widely distributed soil-inhabiting entomopathogenic fungus. Isolated from Brontispa in several locations and successfully used for control in Samoa and Taiwan.

Beauveria bassiana
(Balsamo)Vuillemin
(Moniliales: Moniliaceae)

Samoa

Common fungus, spraying of coconut trees with 5 x 105 conidia/ml was effective against adults and larvae.

Predator

Chelisoches morio Fabricius (Dermeptera: Chelisochidae)

Java, Indonesia

Important predator of Brontispa, available in most of its distribution zones.

Tetrastichus brontispae–based biological control for Brontispa

Tetrastichus (Tetrastichodes) brontispae was described from Brontispa longissima (Ferriere 1933). It is its main natural enemy and parasitizes the larval and pupal stages (Figure 3). It is native to Java, Indonesia. It has been widely introduced in the Pacific Islands for control of Brontispa.

Indonesia

Leefmans propagated the use of biological control of B. longissima in 1920. His investigations on parasitoids, demonstrated that T. brontispae was the most effective (Leefmans 1935).

The introduction of T. brontispae against B. longissima in Sulawesi started in 1932 and within three years a total of 37 500 parasitized pupae were sent from Bogor to Makassar (Ujung Pandang).

DEVELOPING AN ASIA-PACIFIC STRATEGY
FOR FOREST INVASIVE SPECIES:
THE COCONUT BEETLE PROBLEM –
BRIDGING AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY

Figure 3. (Top to bottom)

Tetrastichus brontispae, the most important pupal parasitoid, widely introduced in the distribution zone of Brontispa; established successfully, it provides relief from the pest.

Chelisoches morio, important predator of Brontispa, available in most of its distribution zones.

Metarhizium anisopliae, isolated from Brontispa in several distribution sites and successfully used to control the pest in Samoa and Taiwan Province of China.

M. anisopliae: A simple method for producing M. anisopliae in empty wine bottles with coconut water from the copra industry evolved in India; it is an excellent example of the utilization of industrial waste and converting it to a valuable product.

Eventually ten rearing stations were established over South Sulawesi and a total of about 13 million parasitized pupae were reared and released between 1935 and 1941 in various locations. The rate of parasitism among field-collected pupae typically was between 70 and 90 percent. In 1946 it was between 20 and 40 percent.

In 1948/49 the rate of parasitism was on average about 40 percent in the 20 1ocations surveyed. The establishment of Tetrastichus brought Brontispa under control and the remaining anomalies improved (Franssen and Tjoa 1952).

The earwig, Chelisoches morio, is an important predator of Brontispa but also feeds on coconut flowers and other organic materials (Figure 3). Its life cycle lasts 75 to 94 days and adults live for three to five months. It is commonly associated with B. longissima in most coconut plantations and complements T. brontispae and other parasitoids.

Papua New Guinea

Tetrastichus brontispae was imported from the Solomon Islands (origin, Java). Large numbers have been released near Rabaul (New Britain) and parasitized pupae have been recovered. The native egg parasitoid, Trichogrammatoidea nana, the larval parasitoid Chrysonotomyia (Achrysocharis) sp., two mites associated with the beetles – one identified as Anoplocelaeno sp. – and a larval bacterial disease also complement T. brontispae and have already been established (O'Connor 1940; Froggatt and O'Connor 1941).

Mariana Islands

Tetrastichus brontispae and Haeckeliana brontispae, obtained from Java, were released in 1948 on Saipan and Rota Island for the control of Brontispa. T. brontispae appeared to be well established by 1954, sometimes providing parasitism of up to 90 percent.

Solomon Islands

Before T. brontispae was released in 1936 against B. longissima in Banika Island (Russell Group) (Lever 1937), the red Gasmasid mite (Celaenopsis sp.) was introduced in the Russell Islands (Lever 1933). T. brontispae was again introduced into the Solomon Islands in 1938, but the outcome was negative. Another introduction in 1968 succeeded. The parasitoid spread over 100 acres by the end of 1969 and was affording parasitism of at least 70 percent, which was sufficient for effective control. The parasitoid spread rapidly and greatly reduced infestation (Stapley 1973; 1979).

The rearing and release of the pupal parasitoid T. brontispae, the removal of ants of the genus Pheidole from coconut palms, and the establishment of O. smaragdina, which drives out Brontispa and other pests has been recommended (Stapley 1980).

New Caledonia

Tetrastichus brontispae was introduced into the Noumea Peninsula, New Caledonia and became established. The rate of parasitism did not exceed 24 percent and even a combination with fungal diseases and the dermapterous predator C. morio did not reduce the incidence of the pest to a satisfactorily low level (Cochereau 1969).

Guam

Tetrastichus brontispae was introduced into Guam in 1974 with shipments from Saipan, New Hebrides, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands. The parasitoids became established and in the early 1980s, rates of parasitism ranging from 2 to 72 percent in different locations were reported (Muniappan et al. 1980).

Tahiti

In Tahiti, T. brontispae was reared from B. longissima (Gourves et al. 1979).

Australia

Tetrastichus brontispae was imported from New Caledonia and released in Darwin. Brontispa longissima first appeared in Darwin in 1979. Tetrastichus brontispae was first introduced into Darwin to control B. longissima in 1982. The initial introduction did not establish, but a new introduction in 1984 established for five years and then died out. Tetrasticus brontispae was re-introduced into Darwin in 1994 and established in moderate numbers for two years. Between October 1994 and March 1997, the beetle damage to the coconut palms at the release sites was reduced by 20 percent. The parasitoid established in higher numbers at sites that were irrigated with overhead sprinklers. After November 1996, the numbers of T. brontispae diminished and it could not be collected from any of the release sites or nearby areas. The climate at the tip of the Northern Territory may be responsible for the parasitoid's failure to establish, as it is probably suited to a milder tropical climate (Chin and Brown 2001). Only in North Queensland did the release of T. brontispae demonstrate effective control of B. longissima. Successful release is dependent on the initial release of large numbers of the parasitoid (Halfpapp 2001).

Samoa and American Samoa

For long-term control of B. longissima in Samoa, T. brontispae has been mass-released since 1981. From 1984 to 1987, a steady decline in damage from 42.4 percent in 1984 to 15.4 percent in 1987 was noted following the release of T. brontispae as well as the larval parasitoid, Asecodes sp. (1981 - 1986). The incidence of palms damaged by B. longissima in plantations and villages was 4 and 22.9 percent, respectively. In American Samoa approximately 74 percent of all palms were infested, compared with only 14.3 percent in Samoa. In American Samoa and Samoa, damage to coconut by B. longissima was 10and 1–2 percent of the total leaf area. In Samoa, Asecodes sp. was an important cause of larval mortality. No parasitoids were found in American Samoa (Vogele and Zeddies 1990). An extensive survey of damage to 37 000 trees in Western Samoa showed that B. longissima was under control and did not cause any significant yield losses (initial production losses were estimated to be as high as 50 - 70 percent). Biological control has been one of the primary methods of managing pest problems in American Samoa since 1954 (Tauili'-ili and Vargo 1993).

Taiwan Province of China

Ten releases of a total of 11 456 T. brontispae adults were made from January to July 1984 in Chenchinhu, and seven releases of 4 881 parasitoids were made from February to June 1984 in Linbien. The percentage parasitism of pupae recorded from field recoveries at the two sites was 21.2 - 79.2 and 9.3 - 36.2, respectively. The parasitoid prevented most host larvae from developing into adults at Chenchinhu, whereas at Linbien, chrysomelid populations were not effectively suppressed. The parasitoid has established at distances of 2 - 8 kilometres from the release site at Chenchinhu (Chiu et al. 1985) and provided good control of the chrysomelid (Chiu and Chen 1985). The establishment of T. brontispae as a biological control agent of B. longissima in Taiwan Province of China has been confirmed (Chiu et al. 1988).

Other control options

Quarantine measures

The key issue is to stop people carrying palms of any kind from one country to another and from one area to another, as the beetles, eggs, larvae and pupae reside inside the tightly folded leaves. Quarantine measures that can be taken to prevent the entry of such pests are needed (Shiau 1982). In fact a rigid quarantine of plant pests has been highly recommended (Dharmaraju 1984). In Hainan Province of China, measures such as blockading and cutting down coconut palms up to three kilometres from the infestation spot; hanging insecticide bags on the infested palms and banning the transportation of palms from other provinces to or from infested areas have been implemented. Check points were established to enforce this quarantine regulation (FAO 2004).

Cultural control

As far as possible phytosanitary measures should be adopted in plantations. All plants leaving and entering a nursery should be checked for obvious signs of infestations. Infested plants should not be sold – only properly managed; pest-free healthy plants should be removed from the nursery. Old and dead plantation fronds should be removed and destroyed at regular intervals to destroy adult beetles, which hide under the leaf bases during day.

Chemical control

At the beginning of the twentieth century, it was common practice to combat B. longissima by applying manually a concoction of lead arsenate and bordeaux mixture or of tobacco and soap, but the results were poor (Pagden and Lever 1935). The lead arsenate and Bordeaux mixture was too toxic for the foliage (Lever 1933). Later, infested trees were sprayed every 4 - 6 weeks with a solution of 0.15 percent dieldrin via low-volume knapsack sprayers. DDT at 0.2 percent and chlordane at 0.16 percent were effective, but less persistent than dieldrin.

Chemical control of B. longissima was recommended for young palms, followed by biological control with T. brontispae on three-year-old palms when spraying became more difficult (Stapley 1973). Chemical control measures while the palms were still in the nursery became routine (Stapley 1980).

During the twentieth century a number of insecticides were used in different concentrations and combinations to combat B. longissima, these included: dieldrin, aldrin, phosdrin, DDT, aldicarb, dichlorvos, methidathion, fenthion, quinalphos, azinophos methyl, tetrachlorvinphos, monocrotophos, chlorfenvinfos, idiofenphos, trichlorphon, deltamethrin, dimethoate, endosulfan and lindane.

Brontispa longissima has developed resistance to aldrin and dieldrin. Moreover, most of the aforesaid insecticides have been phased out owing to their harmful side effects. Chemical control may be required in outbreak areas, but from the literature it is clear that very little effort has been made to find safer chemicals. It should be feasible to evaluate pesticides of plant origin, which are ecofriendly and compatible with biological control.

Initiatives of the Asia-Pacific Coconut Community on Brontispa longisimma

From 5 to 18 April 2004, Dr S.P. Singh, Project Coordinator-IPM, visited the following centres in India: The Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI), Regional Station, Kayamgulam, Kerala; University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka; Coconut Development Board (CDB), Kochi, Kerala and Regional Office, Bangalore, Karnataka and the Project Directorate of Biological Control, Bangalore. At each centre, Dr Singh talked with staff members and warned about the possible danger of B. longisimma entering India. Dr. Singh requested the CDB to make reprints of the paper published in Cord 2004, 20(1): 1 - 20 and disseminate the details of the pest to all concerned to maintain vigilance.

Dr P. Rethinam, Executive Director, APCC visited the CPCRI in August 2004. He briefed the scientists about B. longissima and advised them to carefully monitor the pest and enforce strict quarantine measures. He urged them to disseminate the details of this pest to stakeholders to maintain vigilance.

Dr S.P. Singh visited Madang and Tavilo Centers of Cocoa and Coconut Research, Papua New Guinea in July 2004 and Davao Research Center, Philippine Coconut Authority, Philippines in September 2004 and discussed B. longissima and its natural antagonists.

The XLI Cocotech Meeting held in Santo, Vanuatu from 5 to 9 July 2004 recognized the recent threat of B. longissima in reducing productivity and production and the urgent need to educate coconut growers and development workers. It was recommended that the APCC with the support of FAO will jointly follow up with USAID on the organization of a seminar on B. longissima with funding from USAID. This seminar will be organized by the APCC to develop strategies for limiting the impact and spread of this devastating pest in the Asia-Pacific region. The need for enforcing strict plant quarantine measures by member countries will be stressed.

The threat of B. longissima was discussed at the Annual Review Meeting of the CFC/DFID/APCC/FAO Project on Coconut Integrated Pest Management held in Manila, Philippines in late 2004 and FAO and APCC decided to work together for the management of B. longissima.

At the XLI APCC Session held in Tarawa, Kiribati from 19 to 22 October 2004 the problem of B. longissima was highlighted. The Department of Agriculture, Thailand, has introduced the larval parasitoid A. hispinarum from Viet Nam; once established and spread, the pest problem will be reduced within the next two years.

The threat of B. longissima was discussed at the Farmer Field School (FFS) Curriculum Development Workshop held at Kochi, Kerala, India from 3 to 5 February 2005. The need for management of the pest in invaded countries and for vigilance in countries where the pest has not been recorded so far was stressed.

Apart from visits and use of electronic media, APCC staff participated in meetings and exhibitions at Vanuatu, Manila (Philippines), Manado (Indonesia), Kiribati and India. A complete set of colour charts on B. longissima was displayed and discussions were held on management aspects. The information was put on CD ROM and sent to Sri Lanka and India.

Projects pursued and proposed by FAO

The FAO Regional Office for Asia and Pacific is implementing Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) Projects on Integrated Pest Management of Coconut Leaf Beetle in Viet Nam, Nauru, Maldives, Thailand and in Hainan Island of China. The main thrust is classical biological control (FAO 2004). The larval parasitoid Asecodes hispinarum was collected in Samoa in 2003 and introduced, reared and released in Viet Nam, Maldives and Nauru to combat the beetle (Figure 4). The parasitoid is established in all the three countries, with promising prospects for achieving control of the beetle.

Initial results from Viet Nam confirm the establishment of the parasitoid in provinces where it was released and observations at and near release sites indicate that beetle damage has been reduced considerably. Surveys have shown that the dispersal rate of the parasitoid is rapid.

In Maldives and Nauru, field establishment of the parasitoid was confirmed after two and five months after initial field releases in February and November, respectively. In Viet Nam, a recent cost-benefit study showed a return of US$11 for every dollar invested.

DEVELOPING AN ASIA-PACIFIC STRATEGY
FOR FOREST INVASIVE SPECIES:
THE COCONUT BEETLE PROBLEM –
BRIDGING AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY

Figure 4. Adult Asecodes hispinarum – a larval parasitoid of Brontispa longissima

What will APCC do in collaboration with FAO?

For raising awareness and capacity building, training programmes on B. longissima will be organized. Insectaries will be developed and mass-rearing of the larval parasitoid Asecodes hispinarum will be implemented.

Future needs

Acknowledgement

This paper has been modified from the paper published earlier in Cord 2004 which in turn was prepared to serve as a preliminary note to APCC country members to gear up for meeting any eventuality regarding the management of this fast-spreading pest. We are grateful to FAO for expressing the need for documentation and closer interaction.

References

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CFC/DFID/APCC/FAO. 2004. Annual report. Project on coconut integrated pest management. Jakarta, Indonesia, Asian and Pacific Coconut Community. 192 pp.

Chin, D. & Brown, H. 2001. Biological control of palm leaf beetle, Brontispa longissima (Gestro) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) with the wasp parasitoid, Tetrastichus brontispae (Ferriere) (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) in Darwin. In Proceedings of the sixth workshop for tropical agricultural entomology, Darwin, Australia, 11 - 15 May 1998, pp. 61 - 65. Technical Bulletin Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Northern Territory of Australia, No. 288.

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Chiu, S.C., Chen, Z.C., Chou, L.Y., Chou, K.C. & Chen, C.M. 1988. Biological control of coconut leaf beetle in Taiwan. J. Agric. Res. China, 37(2): 211 - 219.

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Dharmaraju, E. 1984. Transport and the spread of crop pests in tropical Polynesia. In M. Laird, ed. Commerce and the spread of pests and disease vectors, pp. 257 - 272. New York, USA, Praeger Publishers.

FAO. 2004. Report of the expert consultation on coconut beetle outbreak in APPPC member countries, 26 - 27 October 2004. Bangkok, Thailand, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. 141 pp.

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* Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC), Jakarta, Indonesia. e-mail: apcc@indonet.id

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