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Confirmed: Live Red Palm Weevil found in US

By CISR Team |

Update on the Red Palm Weevil Infestation in Laguna Beach   

Mark Hoddle
Mark Hoddle of UC Riverside discovered a live RPW in an infested palm in Laguna Beach today.

Today, representatives from the CISR and UCR, (Mark Hoddle and Mike Lewis), UCCE (John Kabashima and Don Hodel), the CDFA (Laura Petro), and the Orange County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office (Nick Nisson) visited the Laguna site with the palm tree infested with RPW. Around this infested tree CDFA has set out bucket traps with pheromones and chunks of apples  to attract RPW to the traps. The buckets contain a liquid to drown RPW that fly into traps. So far no adult weevils have been caught in these traps in the neighborhood of concern. In addition to trapping, CDFA scouts are visually surveying palms from the ground to identify plants that may be infested with RPW. The trap and visual survey area is a 1.5 mile radius around the infested trees. So far 1,481 households have been visited, 9,721 palms have been inspected, and about 86% of the visual survey is complete.    CDFA has deployed about 250 RPW traps over 9 square mile area in two patterns: (1) core traps at a high deployment rate of 49 traps per square mile around the “hot zone”, and (2) buffer traps put out beyond the intensive core trap zone at a rate of 25 traps per square mile.

The infested palm at Laguna shows signs of extensive damage. The crown of the palm has dropped off and the top of the trunk is now ringed with a “halo” of palm fronds.

RPW infested palm at Laguna
The RPW infested palm at Laguna with its last remaining "halo" of fronds. Note the healthy palms in the background.

The trunk of the palm has been heavily damaged internally by feeding RPW. The central portion of the trunk now contains a highly fermented and very wet “mash” of plant material. Examination of the damaged plant material inside the trunk uncovered the abdomens of at least nine dead adult weevils, 7 empty RPW pupal cases, and one live adult weevil (possibly a male). This adult was killed and sent on overnight courier by the CDFA to the USDA-ARS Systematic Entomology Laboratory for official confirmation as RPW. The color morph of the RPW found today is the same dark morph with the red streak on the dorsal surface of the thorax (see photos at http://cisr.ucr.acsitefactory.com/invasive-species/red-palm-weevil).   

It is likely that more than one palm in the immediate vicinity of theinfested palm that was examined today may have died from RPW attack. This possibility has not been officially confirmed, but there is circumstantial evidence to support this.   

RPW "mash"
The RPW "mash" scooped out from inside the trunk of the infested palm.

It is anticipated that upcoming meetings between the CDFA and USDA-APHIS this week will result in the development of an outreach plan that will solicit input from the public to help with the detection on palms infested with RPW in and around the Laguna Beach site.   

The CISR and CDFA RPW websites have contact details should readers of this blog suspect that they have a RPW infestation.

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