Taxonomic name: Brontispa longissima Gestro, 1885
Synonyms: Brontispa castanea, Brontispa froggatti, Brontispa froggatti Sharp, Brontispa longissima var. Javana, Brontispa longissima var. Selebensis, Brontispa palmivora Gres, Brontispa reicherti, Brontispa simmondsi, Brontispa simmondsi Mlk., Oxycephala longipennis, Oxycephala longissima
Common names: coconut hispid beetle, coconut hispine beetle, coconut leaf beetle, coconut leaf hispine beetle, palm leaf beetle
Organism type: insect
The Hispid palm leaf beetle attacks palm leaf fronds ( as the name suggests) especially those of the coconut tree. It is an introduced pest in many islands in the Pacific Ocean and also some nations of the Pacific Rim including Taiwan. Its impact on tropical and subtropical cropping systems can be severe.
Anadastus sp., Octodonta nipae, Plesispa reichei
agricultural areas, planted forests
Temperatures between 24 and 28 deg;C are favourable for the growth of the beetle (Yihai et al. 2005). Young palms less than four years old are particularly attractive to the beetle and at greater risk of infestation; the young leaves of older trees are firmer and less suitable as breeding habitats (FOA 2007). The microenvironment of the beetle is in the heart leaves of the crown of palm trees (Liu Lin & Shiau 1989).
Behavioural notes: The beetles are nocturnal and fly well. They always live in the still-folded leaflets and move outside only to infest the nearby palms or for mating.
Native to Melanesia (PestNet 2002), Indonesia (Aru Islands, Maluku Province, Papua Province, formerly Irian Jaya) (Rethinam & Singh 2007) and Papua New Guinean including the Bismarck Archipelago (Aminath 2004).
Introduction pathways to new locations
Agriculture: The spread of B. longissima and other coconut pests in Oceania is mainly attributed to human activities (Dharmaraju 1984, in FAO 2007).
For ornamental purposes: Lack of strict quarantine on the movement of palms (particularly ornamentals) is considered as a major factor in the spread of B. longissima (FAO 2007). It is suspected that this pest was accidentally introduced into Vietnam, the Maldives and the Philippines with shipments of ornamentals .
People sharing resources:
Translocation of machinery/equipment:
Transportation of habitat material: The beetle can travel long distances by various means of transportation (Jian 2007).
Local dispersal methods
Natural dispersal (local): The beetle is capable of short flight distances - often only a few hundred meters - so its natural spread is slow (APFSIN 2006).
Preventative measures: Prohibition of the movement of host palm seedlings (including ornamental palms) and potential habitat material, including palm produce (eg: coconut leaves, items made from palm fibers) is necessary to prevent spread of the beetle pest to new areas. The use of check points, emergency legislation and emergency measures are all useful management tools. This might include cutting down infested palms and hanging insecticide bags on palms up to three kms from the area of infestation. Raising awareness among stakeholders and the general public and training programs are important for the ongoing monitoring of beetle presence and to increase awareness of the risks involved in shifting palms and palm products. Phytosanitary measures in plantations and nurseries should also be encouraged.
Inspection and monitoring: Adult beetles, larvae and eggs are all located inside the tightly folded leaves young heart leaves in the throat of the palm; these leaves should be targeted during inspection. Symptoms of infestation by B. longissima include necrotic patches on the young leaflets which appear as white streaks and are caused by the beetle chewing the leaf (Fenne 1996, Howard et al. 2000, in He et al. 2005/06). Injured leaves of coconut seedlings show large, dead patches resulting from the coalescing of feeding strips; the leaves finally tear leaving a ragged appearance (He et al. 2005/06).
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Hispid beetles Brontispa longissima are palmivorous insects (Creighton 1973, Lever 1979, in He et al. 2005/06). The larvae and adults are mostly found in the partly opened young leaflets of palms. Both adult and larvae typically feed on the epidermis and parenchyma of the leaves removing strips of tissues from the leaflets and destroying the growing points of the palms (Fenne 1996, Howard et al. 2000, in He et al. 2005/06; Gutierrez 1978).
The female on average lays 120 eggs in the course of several weeks (Kalshoven 1981, in FAO 2007), which produce 40 larvae.
Eggs are laid in the still-folded leaflets of both young and mature coconut palms. The eggs are surrounded by debris and excrement, and laid longitudinally in rows of an excavated area of leaf tissue. They in hatch between three to seven days. In two to five days they hatch to feed as larvae on the unopened leaves. In 36 days they form pupae which open 6 days later. The adult beetle matures two weeks after emergence from the pupa and lives for two to three months (French 2006; ASEAN IPM 2007; FAO 2007). The whole cycle from egg to adult occupies about five to seven weeks in Java and Sulawesi, but can extend to nine weeks in other (presumably cooler) places (Kalshoven 1981, Lever 1969, in FAO 2007).
Principal sources: FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 2007. Developing an Asian-Pacific Strategy for Forest Invasive Species: The Coconut Beetle Problem - Bridging Agriculture and Forestry. [Report of the Asia-Pacific Forest Invasive Species Network Workshop 22–25 February 2005, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam (RAP PUBLICATION 2007/02)]. FAO: Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific: Bangkok.
Compiled by: IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) with support from the Forestry Division (Council Of Agriculture) Taiwan
Last Modified: Friday, 13 February 2009