The County of Maui Department of Agriculture launched a Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Working Group to address the imminent threat of the invasive Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros), which was reported recently in Kīhei.
The task force is seeking public help to look for and report Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB) adults, larvae and damaged trees, using the identification criteria attached.
In partnership with Mayor Richard Bissen’s Office of Innovation and the county Department of Environmental Management, the county Department of Agriculture is spearheading the CRB Working Group to coordinate resources, expertise and collaboration with leaders from Hawai’i Department of Agriculture, University of Hawai’i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Response and Maui Invasive Species Committee.
Seventeen live coconut rhinoceros beetle larvae were found and reported on Nov. 21 by an arborist cutting down coconut palm trees in Kīhei. The insect poses a significant threat to native palms, cultural plants and food security as a whole.
“Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle is a serious threat to our native palms, cultural plants, and food security. It has the potential to wipe out our palm trees, as well as feed on bananas trees, ʻulu and other culturally important crops,” said Travis “Koa” Hewahewa, County Department of Agriculture deputy director. “To respond to this threat, we have launched a CRB Working Group to stop CRB in Maui as well as prevent its spread to Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi.”
Early detection and community involvement are critical for effective control, prevention efforts and eradication of the coconut rhinoceros beetle population, according to Michael Melzer of University of Hawaiʻi’s Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences.
The public is asked to examine compost and mulch piles for larvae, look for bore holes and damaged palms in your area, and report any CRB sightings that match the below description. Call 643-PEST (808 643-7378) or report online at 643pest.org.