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 ferrugineus (Red palm weevil)
The adult Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Source: Luigi Barraco - Own work (personal work), CC BY-SA 3.0,
General information
The red palm weevil, also known as the Asian palm weevil digs holes in the palm trunks up to 1 meter long, which weakens the palm and could eventually lead to death. It is highly invasive and considered as the major pest in 19 palm species including, the coconut palm, date palm and oil palm [1]. The adults are good fliers and are capable of long flights and can find their host plants in long distances [2].

The weevils mainly attack young palms below the age of 20 years as the young palm stem is soft, succulent and easily penetrated [3].

Symptoms observation during early stages of infestation could be challenging. Common signs to look out for include:

  • Chewing by weevils produces holes in the crown or trunk
  • The feeding points may have ejection of fibres and possibly oozing of brown liquid
  • Audible crunching noise of the feeding grubs
  • Withering of bud/crown
Detection and Inspection
Observe for:

  • Egg laying notches
  • Cocoons inserted into the base of the palms
  • Holes at the base of cut palms
  • Symptoms resembling lack of water such as wilting
  • Desiccation and necrosis of the foliage
  • Tunnelling within the stems and trunk
Taxonomic information
Category - Insect
Domain - Eukaryota
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Arthropoda
Class - Insecta
Order - Coleoptera
Family - Curculionidae
Genus - Rhynchophorus
Species - ferrugineus
Common Name - Red palm weevil
Scientific Name - Rhynchophorus ferrugineus
The weevil is native to southern Asia and Melanesia but since the 1980s it has rapidly expanded its geographical range westwards. It is present in; Albania, Algeria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Palestinian Authority Territories, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, North Africa, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Yemen, Aruba, Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Western Samoa.
Prevention and Control
Cultural control
  • Good agronomic practices – removal of frond and offshoot, proper irrigation, appropriate palm density and field sanitation [4].

Pruning measures to control infestation (Source: BuhaM - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Chemical control


  • Areas with high weevil activity on fresh wounds after frond and offshoot removal can be treated with chemicals.


  • Palms in the early stage of attack can recover with insecticide treatment. Through the diffusion method, the insecticide solution can be poured into holes drilled around the infested site on the palm. The treatment should be repeated after 15 days.
Biological control

No successful biological control has been reported in the field level.

Some of the potential initiatives include:
  • Parasitic mites as reported in India.
  • Entomopathogenic nematodes Steinernema sp. in Spain
  • Entomopathogenic fungi Beauveria bassiana

Pheromones and behavioural chemicals

  • Mass trapping of the weevil using food-baited pheromone traps [5].
  • Trapping techniques, involving ‘Attract and Kill’ or the use of the ElectrapTM

IPM programmes

The IPM component entails:
  • Surveillance with regular inspection of palms to detect infestations and
  • Trapping the weevil using pheromones lures
  • Cultural measures such as plant and field sanitation
  • Physical methods - preventing entry of weevils through cut ends of petioles and wounds
  • Use of attractants and other chemicals
  • Preventive and curative chemical treatments
  • Removal of severely infested palms
Plant Parts Affected
  1. "Rhynchophorus ferrugineus Oliver". Phytosanitary Alert System. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  2. EPPO (2022) Rhynchophorus ferrugineus. EPPO datasheets on pests recommended for regulation. Available online.
  3. Wahizatul Afzan Azmi*; Chong Ju Lian*; Hazlina Ahamad Zakeri**; Norhayati Yusuf**; Wan Bayani Wan Omar*; Yong Kah Wai*; Ainatun Nadrah Zulkefli* and Mohd Haris Hussain*. The Red Palm Weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus: Current Issues and Challenges in Malaysia Oil Palm Bulletin 74 (May 2017) p. 17-24.
  4. FAO (2020) Red palm weevil, Guidelines on management practices. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.
  5. Hallett RH, Oehlschlager AC, Borden JH (1999) Pheromone-trapping protocols for Rhynchophorus ferrugineus. International Journal of Pest Management 45, 231-237.
  6. Dutta, Ram, Thakur, Narain Singh Azad, Bag, Tusar Kanti, Anita, Ngashepam, Chandra, Satish, et al. New Record of Red Palm Weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) on Arecanut (Areca catechu) from Meghalaya, India Florida Entomologist, 93(3) : 446-448 Published By: Florida Entomological Society URL:
  7. DEFRA (2017. Chris Malumphy (Fera), Dominic Eyre and Helen Anderson (Defra) Feb 2017 © Crown copyright 2017. Red palm weevil. Rhynchophorus ferrugineus. Plant Pest Factsheet.
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