Coconut rhinoceros beetles found on Kauai, first detection outside of Oahu

Invasive Coconut Rhinoceros beetles discovered on Kauai, prompting urgent response
Invasive Coconut Rhinoceros beetles discovered on Kauai, prompting urgent response(No courtesy)
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 9:05 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two coconut rhinoceros beetles (CRBs) were recently found on Kauai in traps near a green waste transfer station near the Lihue Airport, marking this the first time ever that these beetles have been discovered on another island outside of Oahu.

The two beetles were uncovered by survey crews from the Kauai Invasive Species Committee (KISC) on May 31 and June 2, respectively; one beetle was found alive, and the other was found dead.

What are CRBs?

CRBs are known to be pests of palm trees--primarily coconut palms--as the adult beetles bear into the crowns of the palms to feed on the tree’s sap. New, unopened palm fronds are also damaged in this way and, when fully opened, may break and fall unexpectedly.

If CRBs kill or damage the growing point of the palm, the tree could die. Once this happens, dead trees become a safety hazard as they may fall unexpectedly, resulting in bodily injury or property damage.

Where have CRBs been discovered in Hawaii so far?

The first CRBs were discovered in Hawaii on Oahu in Dec. 2013 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Since then, they have also been found in West Oahu, from Maili to Pearl City and Kunia. CRB infestations have also been detected on the North Shore in areas such as Mokuleia, Kahuku, and Waimanalo.

CRBs are most common in India, the Philippines, Palau, Fiji, Wallis, Nukunonu, American Western Samoa, and Guam. Therefore, it is still not known exactly how the beetles arrived in Hawaii.

How is Hawaii working to eradicate CRBs?

Since first being detected in 2013, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) implemented an Incident Command Structure, which will be expanded to tackle the situation on Kauai with help from KISC staff.

Four members of Oahu’s CRB Response Team will also be deployed to Kauai this week to assist with CRB control and eradication.

CRB pheromone traps have also been used on all islands for over five years in locations such as Nawiliwili Harbor and Lihue Airport. The traps are used for early detection of CRB infestations.

Since green waste provides an optimal breeding environment for CRB, Hawaii residents are also urged to check their compost bins for any signs of the beetle or its larvae.

“When CRB was first detected on Oahu about 10 years ago, early eradication efforts were hampered by the lack of funding and lack of information about the pest,” said Sharon Hurd, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “We want to make sure this does not happen on Kauai, and we appreciate the assistance of partner agencies and all the research that has gone into CRB eradication and control.”

The USDA currently provides the HDOA with about $2 million per year for CRB response efforts and about $350,000 per year for CRB-detecting canine support.

Kauai’s CRB response plan includes:

  • Conducting visual surveys within a one-mile buffer zone of the first detections
  • Deployment of additional traps at 25 priority sites, including the use of cameras and ultraviolet traps
  • Possible fumigation of green waste at Kauai’s transfer station
  • Possible deployment of CRB-detector dogs after initial visual surveys by the response team
  • Reviewing the possible pathways of CRB introduction to uninfested areas

Tissue samples of the two beetles found on Kauai have been sent to the University of Hawaii for further analysis.

Any reports of possible CRB infestation may be addressed to the CRB Response Team at (808) 679-5244 or email or the state’s toll-free Pest Hotline at (808) 643-PEST (7378).

For more information regarding CRB in Hawaii, click here.