Plague of bugs hits coconut trees

PHUKET: Phuket’s coconut trees have been attacked by an estimated one billion coconut hispine beetles this year.

Songwat Tiwthao, of Phuket Provincial Agriculture Office, told the Gazette that the problem was a new phenomenon, with the beetles (scientific name brontispa longissima) being found in Phuket only during the past two years. They are particularly prevalent in Chalong and Rawai

The coconut hispine beetle is black and smaller than a housefly. It has a lifespan of only one month, but reproduces rapidly. Often, as many as a hundred beetles will gather on one coconut tree

“This insect is widespread in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam,” said K. Songwat. “The biggest population in Thailand is found on Koh Samui

“We have had many complaints about the beetles from local people, but because of the height of the trees it’s difficult to treat them with pesticide, especially when there are so many more of these insects this year.

“The tree will still produce fruit, it’s just the new leaves at the top of the tree that are damaged.”

Phuket News
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