Other Invasive Insects

Background

Insect pests dramatically impact all forms of agriculture.  Left un-managed, introductions of new pests can  
result in serious declines in crop productivity, often leading to increased reliance on pesticides to mitigate  
their impacts. In other instances, insects can affect human health by being a vector for diseases caused by  
bacteria, parasites and viruses.   

Biosecurity activities are the front-line defense against the entry of new insect pests.  However, as trade  
and movement of people between the world and Pacific nations increases, existing biosecurity systems are  
no longer able to adequately manage these risks.  Preventing the entry of new invasive species is the front-
line defense against their impacts.  A regional strategy that prevents the entry and movement of insect pests  
and other invertebrates is needed to stem the flow of new pests and diseases.


Case study:  Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle

Coconut palms are an iconic symbol of the Pacific region.  Also known as the “tree of life”, they provide  
people with food, drink, thatch and wood, erosion control, and beach stability. The Coconut Rhinoceros  
Beetle (CRB) (Oryctes rhinoceros) is a serious pest of coconut palms throughout its native south-east Asia  
range and introduced locations throughout the Pacific region.  Adult beetles bore into the trunks and feed  
on developing leaves of coconut and other palms, causing extensive damage to leaves which often results in  
the death of the parent plant. The beetles have caused the extinction of coconuts on some islands.

To date Hawai‘i has been free of this pest; however, adult beetles were detected in December 2013 at Joint  
Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Honolulu.  Ongoing delimiting surveys may identify more infested sites.  Adults  
and larval stages of Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles are difficult to control with pesticides.  Their large size and  
well-developed cuticle appear to serve as defense to pesticides applied at conventional dosages.  

The Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle is present in Guam, Hawai‘i, Palau, Tonga, Papua New  
Guinea, American and Western Samoa,
 
 
ON THE VERGE OF A BIOLOGICAL CRISIS:
the state of invasive species in the Pacific