EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 03 - 2002 Num. article: 2002/046

Incursions of Scyphophorus acupunctatus in Italy and in the Netherlands: Addition to the EPPO Alert List

Scyphophorus acupunctatus (Coleoptera, Curculionidae) was collected for the first time in Lombardia, Italy, in a glasshouse in 1998. It was found on Beaucarnea recurvata imported from Nicaragua, via the Netherlands. Affected plants presented holes along the trunk, and after a period of time adults emerged and could be identified. In spring 2000, S. acupunctatus was observed again in Beaucarnea in a glasshouse in the Province of Bergamo, Lombardia. S. acupunctatus is a pest of Agavacae and Dracaenaceae (Agave, Dracaena and Yucca) in many parts of the world (Colombo, 2001). Interestingly, it had been found at least twice in the Netherlands: in 1980 on Yucca plants from Guatemala (van Rossem et al., 1981) and in 1989 on the Agavaceous plants Dasylirion longissimum (de Goffau, 1991). It is stressed that these insects are difficult to detect as larvae bore galleries within the plants, and that inspections at production sites after import are needed to detect them. Considering repeated incursions of S. acupunctatus in at least two countries in Europe, the EPPO Secretariat adds S. acupuntatus to the Alert List.

Scyphophorus acupunctatus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae ) – Sisal weevil
Why: Scyphophorus acupunctatus (synonyms: S. interstitialis, S. anthracinus, S. robustior, Rhynchophorus asperulus) has been found several times by Italy and the Netherlands on imported ornamental plants (Beaucarnea, Dasylirion and Yucca) under glasshouse conditions, which shows that the pest has a pathway to enter Europe.

Where: S. acupunctatus originates from the Americas, but it has been introduced to many other parts of the world (mainly arid and tropical regions), probably with the introduction of A. sisalana for the production of sisal.
EPPO region: found in glasshouses on imported Beaucarnea in Italy, Yucca and Dasylirion in the Netherlands, respectively. Not established.
Asia: Indonesia (Java, Kalimantan, Sumatra), Saudi Arabia.
Africa: Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania.
North America: Mexico, USA (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas).
Central America and Carribean: Cayman islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Netherlands Antilles (including Curaçao), Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Virgin Islands (US).
South America: Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela.
Oceania: Australia (Queensland).

On which plants: Agavaceae and Dracaenaceae. Agave (many different species, e.g. species used for fibre production: A. sisalana (sisal), A. fourcroydes (henequen); for beverage: A. tequilana (tequila); for ornamental purposes: A. americana….), Beaucarnea, Dasylirion longissimum, Dracaena draco, Furcraea, Yucca (e.g. Y. aloifolia, Y. elephantipes, Y. glauca).

Damage: Insect larvae bore galleries into the plants. Adult damage consists of groups of feeding punctures on young leaves. In cases of severe attacks, plants in nurseries may die. In addition to feeding damage, the insect favours the development of secondary fungal or bacterial rots. Adults of S. acupunctatus are small black weevils (9-15 mm long). There are 5 larval instars, and the fully developed larva is about 18 mm long, creamy white and legless. Pupation then takes place within a cocoon made of plant fibres and debris. The total life cycle takes 50-90 days, with 4 or 5 generations per year. S. acupunctatus is considered as the most important pest of cultivated Agave (fibre, beverage and ornamental production). Yield losses of 40% have been reported in northern Yucatan, Mexico, on A. fourcroydes (henequen).

Pathway: Plants for planting and pot plants of Agave, Beaucarnea, Dasylirion, Dracaena and Yucca from countries where S. acupunctatus occurs.

Possible risks: Agave occurs essentially around the Mediterranean Basin for ornamental purposes. In other parts of Europe, host plants of S. acupunctatus are grown under glasshouse as ornamentals. More data is needed on the biology of the pest to assess its potential of establishment on agave growing outdoors (S. acupunctatus appears more as a tropical, subtropical species). Considering that a large trade of ornamental host plants takes place between Europe and countries where the pest is present, and the difficulty to detect the insect at the time of import, S. acupunctatus could present a risk for glasshouse production of ornamentals Agavaceae and Dracaenaceae.

Note: Imports of Agavacae and Dracaenaceae are also a pathway of other tropical stem/wood boring insects. For example, the ambrosia beetle Xyleborus ferrugineus (Coleoptera: Scolytidae). It was found several times in the Netherlands (at least in 1979, 1989, 1999) on Dracaena, and Yucca plants imported from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico (de Goffau, 1991, 2000) and grown under glasshouses. Another example is Yuccaborus frontalis (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) which was also found in the Netherlands in 1989 in Yucca and Beaucarnea plants imported from Central America (de Goffau, 1991).

EPPO RS 2002/046
Panel review date: -
Entry date 2002-03


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