The state is still catching dozens of those pesky coconut rhinoceros beetles

The state is still catching dozens of those pesky coconut rhinoceros beetles
Coconut rhinoceros beetles that were captured by the state agriculture department. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Years after it was first discovered on Oahu, state officials are still fighting to stop the spread of an invasive species that can decimate an island’s coconut and palm tree population.

Coconut rhinoceros beetles were first found on Oahu in December 2013, at the Mamala Bay Golf Course on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. More than 100 palm trees on the military installation were destroyed by the pests in the ten months that followed, and issues with the insects persist in many areas — though the golf course is no longer one of them.

State agriculture officials still call Mamala Bay ‘ground zero’ for Oahu’s infestation, but the problem there has been largely eradicated, they say. The beetles haven’t been detected at the golf course since last September, and trees are beginning to recover from damage caused by the pests.

But elsewhere on Oahu, concerns surrounding beetle infestations remain real. The state Department of Agriculture still calls the spread of the coconut rhinoceros beetle a ‘significant issue’ and continues to lead an eradication program that costs millions of dollars every year.

Part of that effort involves the placement and periodic checking of traps designed to catch the beetles; nearly 3,100 of them are currently deployed on Oahu, and some of them are inspected as frequently as once a week.

Earlier this month, agriculture officials caught 35 of the beetles in a single week. The insects are routinely caught, they say.

The insects tend to make homes out of decaying plant material, and state officials continue to urge residents to check their mulch and green waste bins for the insects.

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