The red palm weevil (RPW), Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, is a snout beetle insect that has caused severe and widespread damage to coconut, date and oil plantations. Several approached to eradicate the problems as been attempted, with little sustainable results. The weevil larvae spends its entire four-month life cycle within the trunk of the palm tree. These larvae bore deep into the palm trunk, crowns and offshoots, thereby hollowing the inside until the tree dies. The female RPW distributes her eggs within the cavities of a tree, typically at the base of the leaves, crowns and adjacent to the offshoots. The larvae to remains undetected, allowing several generations of weevil to develop within a single tree. As young palm trees are traded between countries, the pest spreads between plantations worldwide. Thus, to prevent the heavy implementation of potentially harmful pesticides, early detection, eradication treatment and prevention methods are necessary to mitigate infestations.
Solutions to date include: 1. Acoustic Detection 2. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) Detection 3. Multi-Spectral Imagery Analysis and Thermal Imagery Detection 4. Continuous Remote Monitoring using IoT solution 5. Transcriptome Analysis using diagnostic molecular markers 6. Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) 7. Physical inspection (not scale-able) 8. Service-Free and Attract-and-Kill Pheromone Trapping including electromagnetic radiation dry traps, and methods incorporating non-repelling insecticides within the food bait. 9. Sanitation and Removal of Severely Infested Palms 10. Pesticides: Spraying (Preventative) and Injections (Curative) 11. Genome Manipulation The prevention of infestation is extremely dependent on the detection stage. Uprooting and disposal of infected trees could inhibit the exposure and spread of the pest to surrounding crops. Eradicating the pest completely from existing plantations is most desired.
Many of the current technologies and methods are (to some extent) successful in combatting the spread of the infestation, whereas others prove useful in monitoring the pest. However, although it was evident that there were distinct advantages within the application of each of the proposed concepts, the need exist for a scalable solution that can be implemented by local and commercial farmers in a cost-effective manner.