What is the red palm weevil?
The red palm weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) is a beetle that is a particular menace to palm trees. Originally from South and South-east Asia, it is now found in more than 60 countries, where it threatens date palms, ornamental palms and coconut palms.
It has been present in France since 2006; it was first detected in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region (French Riviera) and has now become established in the Occitanie region and Corsica.
The red palm weevil develops inside the stipe (trunk) of the tree, causing the palms to fall and the tree to die. It is often detected very late in palm trees, which is a major problem in the control of this pest.
Once the palm weevil is established, the host tree dies after two to five years. In France, the main species threatened are the Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera) and the Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis).
As it poses a global threat, an international action plan has been set up by the FAO to prevent the spread of the red palm weevil. In France, the red palm weevil has been classified as a Category 1 health hazard and has been the subject of a mandatory control strategy since 2010. This strategy is based on three key elements:
- monitoring and early detection of the presence of the pest;
- destruction of the contaminated plant or its infested parts;
- preventive treatments around infested palm trees to avoid any spread of the insect.
ANSES’s work on the red palm weevil
ANSES has worked on control of the red palm weevil on several occasions, in particular by assessing solutions for treating palm trees. It has also carried out an expert appraisal with a view to optimising strategies to control this pest..