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Prevent the spread of Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles
16 December 2022
From Danny Hayes, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - The coconut rhinoceros beetle (CRB) has been a threat to palm species growing here in Honolulu for several years. With the assistance of the public, the agricultural industry and military families, this invasive creature can be controlled.
Experts with the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii (UH) CRB Response team believe sharing information and collaboration can help stop the tiny animal from spreading outside of Oahu.
According to the CRB response website, Oryctes rhinoceros is native to Southeast Asia. It was first detected on Oahu in 2013 near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) and the Honolulu airport on Mamala Bay.
Keith Weiser, deputy operations for CRB Response, believes it is important to control the spread of non-native species that arrive in the state and threaten the ecosystem.
“I feel that it is extremely important to manage invasive species in Hawaii because we have such a high density of rare and endemic species,” said Weiser. “The health of farmed land and natural areas is important to the livelihood, and enjoyment of residents and visitors.”
The CRB burrows within the tree and feeds off of the palms creating damage to the leaves that can be seen from afar. The damage to the coconut palms not only creates an unsightly pattern but can also kill mature trees. There are
also impacts to the cultural uses of the plant.
“Coconut, known as
in Hawaii, has been referred to as
the ‘tree of life’ in many places in the Pacific,” said Weiser. “All
parts of the coconut tree were utilized for various purposes
including food, housing, crafts, transportation, and
Natural resource professionals at JBPHH have
joined the fight in protecting local coconut palm
trees from this invasive beetle.
“The Navy works with the
[Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle]
Response to monitor CRB
populations, survey for CRB damage
in palm trees, and identify potential
breeding habitat,” said JBPHH
Natural Resource manager, Sarah Howard.
The base tries to help do its part by educating the families
that live in military housing and working with groundskeepers
to avoid creating CRB breeding habitats.
“All JBPHH properties have CRB, so they are all at risk,”
said Howard. “Handling green waste in compliance with the
JBPHH Green Waste policy is the installation’s best strategy
for containing CRB.”
JBPHH works alongside organizations and state agencies
like the department of agriculture, UH and CRB Response to
learn more about the movements of the coconut rhinoceros
According to Howard, the goal was to initially get rid of the
invasive beetle entirely, but that is very difficult to do without
other public and private landowners being more proactive.
“The purpose of CRB eff orts have now shifted from
eradication to containment,” added Howard. The goal now
is to stop CRB from further expanding on Oahu and from
making its way to neighboring islands.”
To learn more about the coconut rhinoceros beetle, and to see how to recognize what they look like, visit the CRB Response website at crbhawaii.org.
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