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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Scapanes australis (Melanesian rhinoceros beetle or rhinoceros beetle)
Adult male beetle of Scapanes australis (Source: L. Beaudoin-Ollivier, CABI ISC)
General information
The main hosts of this beetle are coconut, oil palm and betel nut. Its alternate hosts include banana, sugarcane and wild palms. The beetle usually attacks the young coconuts from the seedling stage to about 5 years old. Meanwhile the adult beetles attack the nut of the coconut, however this is a rare incident (Arura, 1984; L Beaudoin-Ollivier, CIRAD-CP, France, unpublished data).
  • The adults bore into crowns of the palm.
  • The emerging fronds show V-shaped cuts, twisting, spiraling and truncated leaflets.
  • The palm dies if the growing point is damaged.
  • The damage allows entry of other organisms such as termites and Rhynchophorus weevils.

Third stage larvae of the beetle (Source: CABI ISC)

Detection and Inspection
  • The adults bore into the stem or the trunk in the basal part
  • Once the adult penetrates the stem, it pushes the crushed fibre out of the entrance hole
  • Observe for young coconut plantations looking for damages
  • The frond is truncated or has 'V'-shaped excisions in the row of leaflets
  • Pheromone traps can be set up in an area where infestation is suspected using live males as bait (Kakul et al., 1999; Prior et al., 2000).
Taxonomic information
Category - Insect
Domain - Eukaryota
Kingdom - Metazoa
Phylum - Arthropoda
Class - Insecta
Genus - Scapanes
Species - australis
Common Name - Melanesian rhinoceros beetle or rhinoceros beetle
Scientific Name - Scapanes australis
It is present in the Southeast Asia and Oceania. It is recorded from Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
Prevention and Control
Chemical Control
  • As S. australis only attacks young coconut (less than 10 years old), the application of insecticide is allowed in moderation. Furadane granules can be applied around the spear base and leaf axils (PNG CCRI, 1999).
Natural and Synthetic Attractants
  • Live males are attractive to both sexes at night under natural conditions (Morin, 1998; Kakul et al., 1999; Morin et al., 1999).
  • An original aggregation pheromone has been identified and synthesized (Rochat et al., 1999, 2000).
  • The pheromone and dispensers are under field trials and other trials have been set to demonstrate the impact of the trapping on the level of Scapanes attacks.
Host-Plant Resistance
  • The coconut variety Gazelle Tall was less susceptible to S. australis attacks than Rennell Tall and Rennell Tall X or Malayan Dwarf (Dori,1982) in East New Britain of Papua New Guinea.
  • It is also reported in the Solomon Islands that rapidly growing palms pass quickly through the phase of susceptibility (Stapley, 1979; Anon., 1981).
Plant Parts Affected
  1. Anon., 1981. Annual report of the entomologist 1980. Report, Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Solomon Islands (1981). Review of Applied Entomology, (A) 70:81.
  2. APPPC, 1987. Insect pests of economic significance affecting major crops of the countries in Asia and the Pacific region. Technical Document No. 135. Bangkok, Thailand: Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific region (RAPA)
  3. Arura M, 1984. Pests of coconut palm. The New Guinea Rhinoceros Beetle Entomology Bulletin, No. 32:115-117
  4. Beaudoin-Ollivier L, Morin JP, Prior RNB, Kakul T, Ollivier J, Rochat D, Mariau D, 1999. The Scapanes-rhynchophorus complex, the main entomological problem on coconut in Papua New Guinea. Plantations, Recherche, De^acute~veloppement, 6(1):46-55; 29 ref
  5. Beaudoin-Ollivier L, Prior RNB, Laup S, 1998. A field key to identify some rhinoceros and other beetle larvae breeding in coconut palm habitats in Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea Journal of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 41(2):1-15
  6. Bedford GO, 1973. Experiments with the virus Rhabdionvirus oryctes against the coconut palm rhinoceros beetles Oryctes rhinoceros and Scapanes australis grossepunctatus in New Guinea. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 22(1):70-74
  7. Bedford GO, 1974. Descriptions of the larvae of some rhinoceros beetles (Col., Scarabaeidae, Dynastinae) associated with coconut palms in New Guinea. Bulletin of Entomological Research, 63(3):445-472
  8. Bedford GO, 1976. Observations on the biology and ecology of Oryctes rhinoceros and Scapanes australis (Coleoptera: Scarabpidae: Dynastinp): pests of coconut palms in Melanesia. Journal of the Australian Entomological Society, 15(3):241-251
  9. Bedford GO, 1976. Rhinoceros beetles in Papua New Guinea. South Pacific Bulletin, 26(3):38-41
  10. Dori F, 1982. The influence of pests on cash crops. Course Proceedings, Sub-regional training course on methods of controlling diseases, insects and other pests of plants in the South Pacific. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Kingdom of Tonga, 14-20 October 1982, Vaini, Tonga
  11. Dun GS, 1955. Economic entomology in Papua New Guinea. Papua and New Guinea Agricultural Journal, 9:109-119
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