Cocopest - Information portal for major pests and diseases of coconut
Cocopest - Information portal for major pests and diseases of coconut
Cocopest - Information portal for major pests and diseases of coconut
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Rhynchophorus phoenicis (African palm weevil)
Adult of Rhynchophorus phoenicis in habit (source: Dimaoleksii/via Wikimedia Commons - CC BY 4.0, CABI ISC)
General information
R. phoenicis occurs on a range of wild and cultivated palm trees (Palmae), mainly oil and coconut palms (Hill, 1983). Adult R. phoenicis occur year-round in tropical Africa where palms are present. The common breeding sites include stressed, wounded, dying and fallen palms. Adult R. phoenicis are good fliers and in immature stages the pest can be dispersed within infested palm tissue.

  • Yellowing of foliage
  • Destruction of emerging leaves
  • Necrosis on flowers


  • Mining of the trunks and leaf stems
  • Plant tissue becomes necrotic and decays
  • Unpleasant and characteristic odour produced

Larvae of R. phoenicis (source: Lautenschläger T, Neinhuis C, Monizi M, Mandombe JL, Förster A, Henle T, Nuss M (2017), CABI ISC)

Detection and Inspection
  • Leaves of infested palms become yellow and flowers become necrotic
  • Observe for galleries and damage to leaf-stems can be identified in heavy infestations
  • Pupae and old larvae are frequently found when inspecting the crowns of infested palms
  • The tissues of infested plants become foul, producing a strong and characteristic odour
Taxonomic information
Category - Insect
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Arthropoda
Class - Insecta
Order - Coleoptera
Family - Curculionidae
Genus - Rhynchophorus
Species - phoenicis
Common Name - African palm weevil
Scientific Name - Rhynchophorus phoenicis
R. phoenicis is restricted to tropical Africa.
Prevention and Control
Cultural Control and Sanitary Methods

This is the primary means of control

  • Adult R. phoenicis are attracted to the odour of feeding sites and to damaged palms, in which they lay their eggs. Hence, avoiding wounds during agronomic practices is crucial
  • Traps made from thinned or wild palms which are felled divert weevils away from cultivated palms
  • A number of chemical compounds stimulated strong antennal responses of the weevils, including ethyl acetate, ethyl propionate, isobutyl propionate, ethyl butyrate, and ethyl isobutyrate. These volatiles are all characteristic of fermenting oil and coconut palm trees
Chemical Control
  • Carbaryl or similar insecticides can be injected into infested feeding galleries or into the trunk above infested regions (Hill, 1983).
Pheromonal Control
  • A male-specific aggregation pheromone has been identified in R. phoenicis. Trapping studies in Côte d'Ivoire have demonstrated that synthetic blends of this aggregation pheromone are highly attractive in the field).
  • The synthetic aggregate pheromone, 3-methyl-4-octanol (phoenicol) is suitable as attractant. R. phoenicis produces and responds to only one of the four possible stereoisomers of 3-methyl-4-octanol (Gries et al., 1993; Rochat et al., 1993; 1995; Perez et al., 1994).
Plant Parts Affected
Leaves, Flower
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