The Red Palm Weevil (RPW) is widely considered the most devastating insect to attack palms has been found in Laguna Beach, Orange County Calif. The weevil was originally found by a landscape specialist in late August 2010 infesting a Canary Islands palm in a residential area. Subsequent investigation by plant health regulatory officials confirmed the presence of weevils at the original detection site.
This detection of red palm weevil in California is the first North American record for this pest.
RPW causes severe problems in many parts of the world including the Arabian Peninsula, Northern Africa, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Iran, Pakistan, India, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean. In addition to ornamental palms, RPW can attack and kill date, coconut, oil, and sago palms.
Date palms are a $20 million per year industry in California, and ornamental palm sales are estimated at $70 million per year in California.
Weevil larvae bore tunnels through palm crowns as they feed, eventually killing the trees. Control of weevil infestations is very difficult and expensive. Adult weevils are strong fliers and can spread by flying up to 4 miles in 3-5 days. Should the pest spread beyond Laguna Beach, it could de devastate ornamental palms in California, destroying an iconic symbol closely associated with California, Florida, and other US states like Hawaii.
For more information and photos of this pest visit: The Center for Invasive Species Research Website