A voracious species of red beetle has been gnawing its way through the palm trees of the Balearic Islands, wreaking havoc across Majorca in 2006 and now actively invading Ibiza.
According to the Balearic Ministry of Agriculture, this beetle, of Malaysian origin, is extremely difficult to eradicate and its path of destruction has meant that so far, 120 palm trees across the region have had to be cut down. The destructive forager was detected in the south-west of the Spanish mainland in 1995 and did serious damage to some of the oldest palm trees..
The first case on Majorca was recorded in 2006 in Sa Rapita (Campos) and afterwards more palm trees were found to be infested with this pest in various areas of Santanyi, Felanitx and Pollensa. At the end of last year, it was confirmed that the beetle had been found in the Playa de Palma and Alaro. At the end of 2007, the Vegetation Health Service, part of the Ministry of Agriculture, who are responsible for eliminating this insect, found affected palms at Ibiza airport. The red beetle colonises palm trees which have been trimmed or are diseased. Here they raise their larvae to adulthood and form colonies of up to 300 insects which attack different species of palm tree, although the majority of the damage in Spain has been to the Canary Island palm tree.