Introduction of the Asiatic palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus into Spain
The Asiatic palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus was found for the first time in Spain, in the coastal region of Granada, on Phoenix canariensis material collected between July 1994 and December 1995. The first damage were in fact seen in 1993, in Motril and Almuñecar. Severely attacked palm trees showed a total loss of the palms and rotting of the trunk which lead to the death of the tree. R. ferrugineus occurs in Asia and Oceania. Adults are big reddish-brown weevils (2.5 to 5 cm long). Females lay eggs in the crown of palm trees (200-800 eggs/female), larvae then penetrate the crown and later to most parts of the upper trunk, making tunnels of up to 1 m long. Damaged tissues become necrotic and decay rapidly. Pupation takes place in a cocoon under the bark. The life cycle can last 3-6 months. The main host plants are Cocos nucifera and Elais guineensis. The insect can also attack other Arecaceae such as Phoenix dactylifera, Metroxylon sagu, Phoenix sylvestris.
The authors stressed that, in Spain, palm trees are important especially for ornamental purposes. In addition, there is a 537 ha production of date palm trees, essentially in the Province of Alicante (98 % of it) and also in Andalucia. They felt that R. ferrugineus could present a serious threat for Spain and chemical treatments are applied to prevent any further spread.
Barranco, P.; de la Peña, J.; Cabello, T. (1996) El picudo rojo de las palmeras, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Olivier), nueva plaga en Europa. (Coleoptera, Curculionidae).
Phytoma España, no. 67, 36-40.