STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
THE Balearic government's agricultural department has, on at least two occasions, ordered Pollensa Council to take urgent measures to stop a plague which has been threatening palm trees in the area for the past few years.

The latest strain of the plague, which is caused by the red palm weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus), has been located on municipal land on the Llenaire development.

The beetle is relatively large, between two and five centimetres long and usually a rusty red colour, however different colour variants exist around the globe.

Its larvae can excavate holes up to a metre long in the trunk of palm trees, thereby weakening and eventually killing the host plant.
As a result, the beetle is considered a major pest of palm plantations, including the coconut palm, date palm and oil palm.
Originally from tropical Asia, the red palm weevil has spread to Africa and Europe, reaching the Mediterranean in the 1980s.
It was first recorded in Spain in 1994, and in France in 2006.
The weevil was first reported in the western hemisphere on Curaçao in January 2009 and sighted the same year in Aruba.. It was reported in the United States at Laguna Beach, CA Oct. 4, 2010.

This latest case in Pollensa was spotted on October 18, last year and apparently, when inspectors from the Department for Agriculture revisited the site on November 15, limited measures had been carried out but the inspectors considered them insufficient to stop the plague spreading.

Now, the local residents have been advised that a third inspection is going to take place this month and the department hopes that this time, the beetles will have been killed and the plague brought under control.

The alarm was first raised on the Llenaire development when the council began using the area of municipal land to dump garden waste, in particular infested pieces of palm trees.

The council has already lost 60 of its 80 palm trees to the plague and the residents in Llenaire are demanding for urgent action to be taken to save their palm trees.

On the development there are over 100 palm trees and six are currently infested by the red palm weevil and Pollensa Council is now under serious pressure to take immediate action from local residents and the Balearics government before it is too late and the weevil really starts to spread.

The main control method is through the application of a systematic insecticide.
Insecticide is usually applied through a funnel about 5 cm above the infested area of the trunk.
The red palm weevil can be monitored using pheromone lures bucket or pitfall traps, and alternative forms of control use field sanitation and mass trapping with traps baited with pheromone and plant derived semiochemicals.

New alternative technologies using semiochemicals and bio insecticides are being developed to more effectively control this devastating pest of palm trees

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