Coconut rhinoceros beetle in the Philippines

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Newspaper Article

The coconut industry is not only faced with the devastating Brontispa beetle that feeds on the young shoots of coconut.

The old rhinoceros beetle or "uwang" is still a big problem to coconut planters in many parts of the country. And it is also a threat to the oil palm plantations.

Only recently Apollo M. Diao, agriculturist based in Palawan, has reported severe rhinoceros beetle infestation of coconuts in Brgy. Iraray, S. Española. In the same locality, he reported that some 7,000 oil palm seedlings were also damaged by the rhinoceros beetle.

While information campaign has been conducted and mechanical control was introduced, no available chemicals are available in Palawan for controlling the pest. That’s why Diao has requested the central office of the Philippine Coconut Authority to provide at least 30 kilos of GMF or green muscardine fungus which has been proven effective in controlling the pest for the long term. Even the Palawan Palm and Vegetable Oil Mills is also reported to be interested in buying GMF which is usually sourced from the Davao Research Center of the PCA or from the Albay Research Center.

The pest is also prevalent in Mindanao where young trees as well as old ones are attacked by the pest.

Meanwhile Cynthia E. Gallego, chief of the Crop Protection Division of the Davao Research Center, has recommended the use of pheromone trapping in combination with the other recommended practices.

She reported that in a pilot study on severely infested coconut farm in Davao City, the use of pheromone trap dramatically reduced crown damage from 90 to 10 percent. Some 2,275 beetles were caught in 36 pheromone traps in the whole barangay from June to October 2006.

In a parallel study in Makilala, North Cotabato, a total of 377 beetles were caught in only two pheromone traps in a five-hectare farm from November 2007 to March 2008. Full recovery of the infested plants was observed.

The trap is made of 4-inch diameter PVC pipe that’s five feet long. Appropriate windows at the sides of the pipe serve as entry holes. The pole is kept in upright position with the use of a pole driven to the ground. Two kilos of decaying sawdust is added inside as temporary shelter for trapped adults. Before finally installed, a tin can with punched holes is fitted at the bottom of the pipe to prevent trapped beetles from escaping.

Sachets of the pheromone which attracts the beetles are placed in the trap. One trap is enough for every two hectares.

The trapped beetles are collected every week. They are not killed, however. They are subsequently infected with baculovirus and then released to infested areas. These will infect the other beetles in the field.

Philippine Coconut Authority