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 palmarum (South American Palm Weevil)
Adult Rhynchophorus palmarum
General information
Rhynchophorus palmarum, the South American Palm Weevil is reported to feed on 35 plant species from 12 different families [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] but this species has been mostly reported as a pest for a number of palms and on sugarcane [6, 7]. The weevil can vector the nematode Rhadinaphelenchus cocophilus, an obligate parasite which causes the red-ring disease in palms [8].

Besides coconut (Cocos nucifera), R. indica is present in betel palm (Areca catechu), date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) and hurricane palm (Dictyosperma album). It was also reported in the families Pandanaceae, Musaceae, Fabaceae, Zingiberaceae, Marantaceae, Cycadaceae, Myrtaceae, Heliconiaceae, Zamiaceae, Lamiaceae and Strelitziaceae.

  • Fronds start yellowing gradually upon weevil attack.
  • New leaves are damaged and with time the leaves dry off and drop.
  • Necrosis occurs in the flowers.
  • Heavily-infested plant tissues produce strong odours
  • Female weevils create holes in the plant tissues using their rostrum and lay eggs inside [9].
Detection and Inspection

Excision of fronds near the base on the affected palms helps in observing the tunneling, presence of either larvae, pupae or adults. The palms can also be inspected by splitting from the crown to the start of the trunk to expose tunneling. However, this method is only recommended if the probability of pest attack is high. This method will enable the detection of larvae and pupae way before the adults are trapped using baits [15].

Rhynchophorus palmarum eggs, white with rounded ends.

Taxonomic information
Category - Insect
Genus - Rhynchophorus
Species - palmarum
Common Name - South American Palm Weevil
Scientific Name - Rhynchophorus palmarum
R. palmarum is present in tropical, subtropical and Mediterranean climatic areas from South and North America [9]. It is reported to cause extensive damage to palms in Costa Rica, Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia. Other countries which also reported the presence of R. palmarum include Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana (France), Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay [9].
Prevention and Control
R. palmarum vectors the red ring nematode and the reduction of nematode levels can be achieved by reducing the R. palmarum populations.

Among the methods which reduce infestations:

  • Remove and destroy palms infected by red-ring disease [16].
  • Destroy the damaged palms by chemical killing and drying [2, 17, 18].
  • In Brazil (Bahia), the use of the tachinid parasitoid Paratheresia menezesi; has been proposed as a way to reduce populations of R. palmarum [19].
  • Monitoring of adult weevils using (i) odour-baited traps, i.e. rotting plant materials of palm, pineapple or sugarcane [2, 20, 21, 22], (ii) Yellow traps [23], (iii) aggregation pheromones (main compound, rhynchophorol (4S,2E)-6-methyl-2-hepten-4-ol and minor compound, ferrugineol (4S,5S)-4-methyl-5-nonanol [24] to attract the weevils.
  • Killing of adult weevils with organophosphate insecticides (e.g. trichlorfon and pirimifos-ethyl) [20].
Plant Parts Affected
Leaves, Flower
  1. Esser, R.P. & Meredith, J.A. (1987). Red ring nematode. In: Nematology Circular, Division of Plant Industry, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
  2. Griffith, R. (1987). Red ring disease of coconut palm. Plant Dis, 71 (2),193-196.
  3. Jáffe, K. & Sanchéz, P. (1990). Informe final. Proyecto para el estudio etológico de R. palmarum. Universidad Simón Bolfvar-FONAIAP. Caracas.
  4. Sanchéz, P. & Cerda, H. (1993). El complejo Rhynchophorus palmarum L. (Coleóptera: Curculionidae) - Bursaphelenchus cocophilus Cobb. (Tylenchida: Aphelenchoididae) en palmas. Bol Entom Venezolano, 8 (1),1-18.
  5. Wattanapongsiri, A. (1966). A revision of the genera Rhynchophorus and Dynamis. Department of Agricultural Science Bulletin. Bangkok, Thailand.
  6. Arango, G. & Rizo, D. (1977). Algunas consideraciones sobre el comportamiento de Rhynchophorus palmarum y Metamasius hemipterus en caña de azúcar. Rev. Colombiana Entomol, 3 (1-2), 23-28.
  7. Restrepo, L., Rivera, F. & Raigosa, J. (1982). Ciclo de vida, hábitos y morfometrfa de Metamasius hemipterus Oliver. y Rhynchophorus palmarum L. (Coleóptera: Curculionidae) en caña de azúcar (Saccharum officinarum). L Acta Agron, 32 (1/4), 33-44.
  8. Griffith, R. (1968). The relationship between the red ring nematode and the palm weevil. J Agric Soc Trinidad and Tobago, 68 (3), 342-356.
  9. CABI CPC. (2019). Datasheet on Rhynchophorus palmarum. Retrieved from
  10. Hagley, E.A.C. (1965). On the life history and habits of the palm weevil, Rhynchophorus palmarum. Ann Entomol Soc America, 58 (1), 22-28.
  11. Rochat, D. (1987). Etude de la communication chimique chez un Coléoptère Curculionidae: Rhynchophorus palmarum L. Diplôme d’Etudes Aprrofondies Report, Université Paris VI.
  12. Hoddle, M.S., Hoddle, C. D. & Milosavljević, I. (2020). How far can Rhynchophorus palmarum (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) fly? J Econ Entomol, 1–10.
  13. Oehlschlager, A.C. & Chinchilla, C.M. (1992). Management of the American palm weevil Rhynchophorus palmarum and the red ring disease in oil palm by pheromone-based trapping. ASD Oil Palm Papers (Costa Rica), 5, 15-23.
  14. Costa, A., A, M., Boone, C. K., Kendrick, A. P., Murphy, R. J., Sharpee, W., Raffa, K. F. & Reeve, J. D. (2013). Dispersal and edge behaviour of bark beetles and predators inhabiting red pine plantations. Agric Forest Entomol, 15, 1-11.
  15. Molet, T., Roda, A.L., Jackson, L.D. & Salas, B. (2011). CPHST Pest Datasheet for Rhynchophorus palmarum. USDA-APHIS-PPQ-CPHST.
  16. Brammer, A.S. & Crow, W.T. (2001). Red ring nematode, Bursaphelenchus cocophilus (Cobb) Baujard (Nematoda: Secernentea: Tylenchida: Aphelenchina: Aphelenchoidea: Bursaphelechina) formerly Rhadinaphelenchus cocophilus. Entomology and Nematology Department, UF/IFAS Extension (EENY236).
  17. Victoria, K., Sanchéz, P. & Barriga, O. (1970). Erradicación de palmas de cocotero afectadas por el anillo rojo Rhadinaphelenchus cocophilus (Cobb, 1919). Rev del Inst Colombiano Agrop, 5 (3),185-197.
  18. Blair, G. (1970). Studies on red ring disease of coconut palm. Oleagineux, 25,19-22.
  19. Moura, J.I.L., Mariau, D. & Delabie, J.H.C. (1993). Efficacy of Paratheresia menezesi Townsend (Diptera: Tachinidae) for natural biological control of Rhynchophorus palmarum (L.) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Oleagineux (Paris), 48 (5), 219-223.
  20. Dean, C. (1979). Red ring disease of Cocos nucifera L. caused by Rhadinaphelenchus cocophilus (Cobb, 1919) Goody, 1960. An annotated bibliography and review. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.
  21. Genty, P. (1988). Manejo y control de plagas en palma africana. VI Seminario sobre problemas fitopatológicos de la palma africana. IICA, Bid, Prociandino (Colombia). 101-112.
  22. Morin, J., Lucchiani de, F., Ferreira, J.M. & Fraga, L. (1986). Control de Rhynchophorus palmarum mediante trampas construidas por pedazos de palma. Oleagineux, 41 (2), 61-63.
  23. Camino, L. (1975). Capture of Rhynchophorus palmarum (L.), a coconut palm pest in colored traps in three plant communities in Sánchez Magallanes and Paraíso, Tabasco, México. Folia Entomol Mex, 33, 63-64.
  24. Giblin-Davis, R.M., Oehlschlager, A.C., Perez, A., Gries, G., Gries, R., Weissling, T.J., Chinchilla, C. M., Peña, J.E., Hallett, R. H., Pierce, H. D. & Gonzalez, L. M. (1996). Chemical and behavioral ecology of palm weevils (Curculionidae: Rhynchophorinae). Fla Entomol, 79 (2), 153-167.
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