Red awl


The red weevil is a small beetle, which however can be very dangerous for the palms. The adult insect measures about 30/45 mm and is characterized by its brownish red color, with small black spots on the thorax. The curved rostrum, covered with brownish down, is much more pronounced in the male specimens. The female of the red weevil can lay up to several hundred eggs. Skilled flyers, the red weevils are active both during the day and at night, and are able to move to reach new specimens with flights that can cover a kilometer away. The life cycle of the animal is around 80 days, during which a single couple can arrive to lay 53 million specimens.

Red weevil infestation.

The red weevil affects all types of palm trees. In addition to the varieties of ornamental palms, among the species that can show damage from infestation of the red weevil we find the date palm, the coconut palm and the oil palm. The greatest danger of red weevil infestation is that it can be symptom-free for long periods. Affected plants show no signs of distress until the infestation is at an advanced stage. The first symptoms are given by a particular aspect that is assumed by the foliage, similar to an open umbrella. Later, if it is not treated, the plant will lose its leaves following the collapse of the foliar rachis until it is completely dry. Only when the plant is completely dry does the red weevil leave it, to move on to other specimens.

How to fight the red weevil

The fight against red weevil infestation is always difficult and problematic, following a series of factors. In addition to the initial asymptomatic infestation, which often makes it impossible to intervene promptly, it is also necessary to consider the possibility of the weevils to fly for a radius of one kilometer, and therefore to reach new specimens. The main treatments for plants currently consist of treatments that involve the use of specific insecticides, but which show their complete effectiveness only in the event of timely intervention. Traps based on pheromones and sugary food attractants also seem to show its effectiveness, although there are still many aspects to improve in this technique. Good results come from actions that many growers are taking,

Red weevil: Situation in Italy and legislation

The red weevil alarm now involves the whole of our country. In fact, thanks to the initial trade in infested palms, the insect that left Asia and Melanesia also reached Italy. The first case was reported in 2004 in Pistoia by a nurseryman who had imported palms from Egypt. The rapid expansion in such a short time has given rise to specific rules aimed at fighting its spread. In fact, in 2008 a decree of compulsory struggle was published in the Official Gazette, which forces palm owners to intervene immediately in case of infestation, removing the plant and having it disposed of by qualified personnel.

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