Over 460 coconut rhino beetles, larvae collected


Department of Lands and Natural Resource personnel, along with DLNR Secretary Anthony Benavente, meet with Commonwealth Utilities Corp. executive director Gary Camacho on Rota to discuss a drop line solution to mitigate coconut rhino beetle spreading. (Contributed Photo)

Combined efforts to eradicate the coconut rhinoceros beetle infestation on Rota have successfully thwarted over 439 grubs and 39 adult beetles.

Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Anthony Benavente noted that a collections report of flagged coconut trees and findings is updated daily.

“The affected Tweksberry area has shown a large amount of coconut rhino beetles in the early larvae stage. This period, known as instar, is a sub-stage of growth where grubs look similar to maggots. This notable difference is important because we can determine how long they’ve been growing since coconut rhino beetles experience three growth periods. Before reaching adulthood, the final larvae stage is the emergence from their pupae chambers, and we have so far only discovered two in the pupa stages. This means we are catching the CRB’s before their population increases and spread outside this area,” Benavente said.

Land clearing is taking place in the area to widen the search for affected coconut trees.

Ray Roberto, coordinator for the DLNR Invasive Species, said that personnel have been tracking the CRB count since the beginning of October and that grubs have been collected and destroyed.

“Through the efforts of Forestry and Agriculture personnel on Rota, Department of Public Works, and our federal partners, we’ve been able to quarantine the Tweksberry area and carefully examine all flagged coconut trees. With the help of Commonwealth Utilities Corp. executive director Gary Camacho, we are preparing for a drop line to be installed in the area, which will keep nocturnal CRB’s from flying off to other areas. We are very appreciative of the combined efforts of our agencies and extend our gratitude to the grant funding that was recently awarded by the Office of Insular Affairs to continue these efforts,” Roberto said.

According to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, available resources continue to be deployed for containment and eradication efforts.

“With these findings, we can see that a small amount of adult CRB’s still have an impact on our agriculture. I am very pleased we were able to secure $181,048 in federal funding late last month from OIA.

“We will continue these efforts, and I would like remind our community to be vigilant about the coconut rhino beetle and its potential to affect our island’s agriculture and resources.

“I commend our personnel for their diligence at the frontline of the containment, and I am pleased that we are finding and removing CRB’s before their final growth, since this is key to keeping the beetles under control,” Torres said.

Last month DLNR discovered the presence of 20 adult rhino beetles and multiple grubs on Rota when a coconut tree fell to the ground at the Tweksberry Beach Park, southwest of the West Marina on Rota. Local measures are in place with breeding traps currently deployed. An islandwide assessment continues to prevent further CRB spreading. (PR)

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