Image Credit: Hawaii Dept of Agriculture website (public domain)
The invasive Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle has moved to Hawaii and its fondness for coconut palms could threaten an island staple.
The hefty Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle is large and black. An adult male has large horns while a female has smaller, shorter horns. It bores holes into the young, upper fronds of coconut palm trees. It then drinks the sap that is released by the plant's soft tissue. This frond damage reduces coconut production and could kill younger trees. Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles are pests on a variety of other common island plants such as pineapples, bananas, papayas, dates and taro. Larvae feed on mulch and plant debris. The yellowish grubs are also large, growing up to 4 inches long.
The Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle is native to Asia, but migrated to the Pacific Island of Guam sometime in 2007. It has done significant damage to coconut tree populations there. The beetle has now been found on the island of Oahu in the state of Hawaii. Exactly how the beetle arrived on the island is still unclear. Efforts to find, control and, hopefully, eradicate it from the island are now underway. Other Pacific islands infested with the exotic beetle have used deliberate fungal and viral infections to kill adults and stop breeding. Lures and a pest hotline for reporting infestations are a step toward finding and eliminating this new North American destructive pest.
Scientific Name: Oryctes rhinoceros
Size (Adult; Length): 40mm to 60mm (1.56in to 2.34in)
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Antennae: Beetles have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and mandibles (jaws).
Thorax: Holds the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Elytron: One of two wing cases on a Beetle that protects its wings (plural: elytra).
Wings: Appendages used for flying and kept under the elytra until needed.
Abdomen: Houses organs related to circulation, reproduction, and excretion.
Legs: Beetles have three pairs of legs located at the thorax, numbering six legs in all.