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Plant pests cause concern

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Plant pests cause concern

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Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture are closely monitoring two plant pests, one of which could pose severe problems if it gains a foothold in Barbados.
The Red Palm Weevil, known scientifically as the Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, causes serious damage to a variety of palms, while the Frangipani moth also known as Pseudosphinx tetrio, occasionally attacks the Frangipani tree and plant. Locally, the moth also feeds on Allamanda and Desert Rose.
The Weevil, which has not been discovered in the island as yet, was found in Curacao in 2009. It is considered to be the most damaging insect pest of palms in the world, including coconuts and ornamental palms.
Originating in Southern Asia and Melanesia, the pest has advanced westwards very rapidly since the 1980s. The adult Weevil is typically reddish-brown and cylindrical with a long curved snout.
Entomologist at the Ministry of Agriculture, Ian Gibbs, explained that the Weevil damages the inside of the palm stem or crown by feeding on soft tissues and can often cause severe damage when a large number of them bore into the soft growing parts.
With regard to the Frangipani moth, Gibbs said the adults were a drab gray colour but the larvae were brightly coloured large caterpillars.