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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Brontispa longissimi (Coconut Hispine Beetle)
Adult B. longissima
General information
Brontispa longissimi is one of the most serious coconut pests in the Southeast Asia region.

The host range of B. longissima includes various Palmae [Arecaceae]. In Papua New Guinea, coconut, sago palms, areca or betel palm (Areca catechu), royal palms (Roystonea regia), oil palm and ornamental palms are attacked. In northern Australia, hosts include areca palms (A. catechu), nicobar palm (Bentinckia nicobarica), carpentaria palm (Carpentaria acuminata) and fish tail palm (Caryota mitis). In Hong Kong, it is also reported from ivory nut palm (Phytelephas), petticoat palm (Washingtonia robusta), king palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae) and dwarf date palm (Phoenix roebelenii) (CSK Lau, Agriculture and Fisheries Department, Hong Kong, personal communication, 1992).

  • Both adults and larvae damage the leaflets of young unopened fronds.
  • They graze away the leaf surface in streaks, which are typically parallel to the midrib. The narrow feeding scars enlarge to form irregular, brown blotches as the frond opens. The brown areas shrivel and curl, giving the leaf a characteristic scorched, ragged appearance.
  • Large areas of the leaflets break off leaving the foliage partially skeletonized and its effective photosynthetic tissue may in extreme cases be reduced to virtually nothing. As the leaflets separate when the fronds expand, the adults move to attack younger leaves. They leave narrow chewing marks, which are individually less damaging than larval feeding.
  • Palms weakened by attack are more susceptible to drought and disease (Waterhouse and Norris, 1987).

Adult observed on the leaf

Detection and Inspection
Young coconut palms should be inspected for eggs between or inside the tightly folded leaflets and early feeding damage of the larvae between and inside unopened leaflets, where browning and death of the surrounding tissues can be seen.
Taxonomic information
Category - Insect
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Arthropoda
Class - Insecta
Order - Coleoptera
Family - Chrysomelidae
Genus - Brontispa
Species - longissimi
Common Name - Coconut Hispine Beetle
Scientific Name - Brontispa longissimi
The coconut leaf hispa was originally described from the Aru Islands. It is native to Indonesia, and to Papua New Guinea. It was reported from the Solomon Islands in 1929 and from Vanuatu in 1937 by Risbec (1942) who stated that it had been present in New Caledonia for several years. Cohic (1961) was the first to record B. longissima from New Caledonia (Tahiti), Long (1974) for American Samoa and Anon (1981b) for Western Samoa. It is also present in northern Australia (Fenner, 1984) and Taiwan (Shiau, 1982).

B. longissima was detected for the first time in Hong Kong in 1988 infesting 30 petticoat palms in a nursery (Lau, 1991). Recently, B. longissima has spread to Singapore, Vietnam, Nauru, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Maldives, Myanmar and Hainan Island, China (Rethinam and Singh, 2007). It has the potential to spread from the Maldives to Sri Lanka and southern parts of India.

Prevention and Control
Cultural Control

A surgical method of control has been attempted in the Solomon Islands; this involved cutting out and destroying the central unopened frond which harbours the pest (Brown and Green, 1958). This procedure must be conducted over a large area at one time to reduce re-infestation from neighbouring palms and must be repeated fairly often to be effective. Palms which were 3-6 years old could stand the loss of one leaf every 6 months, but younger palms could not as this caused too great a reduction in growth rate (Tothill, 1929).

Chemical Control
  • The application of chemicals at 10-day intervals was more effective than 3-weekly applications. Satisfactory control can be achieved at low cost using a fine, low-volume spray applied from above to the central spike of each individual palm (Brown and Green, 1958).
  • Chemicals recommended are carbaryl and trichlorfon (Maddison, 1983; Smee, 1965; Stapley, 1972, 1980a; Wu and Tao, 1976). Trichlorfon eliminated Brontispa from isolated areas of young palms in Western Samoa (Bourke, 1981).
  • Monthly spraying of young coconuts with permethrin is also advocated in Western Samoa (Hollingsworth et al., 1986; Peters et al., 1984).
  • In Australia, Jones and Elliot (1986) recommended spraying the unopened fronds thoroughly with carbaryl; repeated applications were necessary as new fronds emerged.
Biological Control
  • An outbreak of B. longissima in Sulawesi, Indonesia, in 1932, led to the importation of Tetrastichus brontispae from Java. Field recoveries made the following year and a few years later, showed substantially reduced injury to coconut plantations by the beetle (Franssen and Mo, 1952).
  • In Western Samoa, Chrysonotomyia parasitized an average of 96% of the fourth-instar larvae in one plantation and Metarhizium infected about 65% of third- and fourth-instar larvae, and 27% of adult beetles in another (Waterhouse and Norris, 1987).
  • The larval parasitoid, A. hispinarum was collected in Western Samoa in 2003 and introduced into Maldives, Nauru, Thailand and Vietnam (Rethinam and Singh, 2007).
  • A biological control programme for B. longissima using T. brontispae is currently in progress in Taiwan (Chiu and Chien, 1989).
  • In 1984, an undescribed heterocoptid mite from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands was introduced to, and became established in, Western Samoa. It is thought to be a predator and many individuals are capable of killing a newly moulted adult Brontispa (Waterhouse and Norris, 1987).
  • Brontispa can be controlled on young palms by spraying suspensions of M. anisopliae. The fungus is capable of spreading rapidly during wet weather, killing more than half of the Brontispa larvae and adults present (Waterhouse and Norris, 1987).
  • Two field trials of microbial control of B. longissima were conducted in the Pingtung area of Taiwan in 1986 and 1987. The pest could not be detected after three applications of M. anisopliae-1, formulated as a homogeneous biomass, in granules or in a conidial suspension (Liu et al., 1989; Liu, 1994).
Host-Plant Resistance
  • Rennell, a variety from the isolated Renell island in the Solomon Islands, is scarcely attacked, whereas varieties from Malaysia such as FMS (Federated Malay States) and dwarf red and yellow palms are highly susceptible. The susceptibility of Malaysian dwarfs is carried into their hybrids.
  • Some varieties from the Ivory Coast and Fiji also show high degrees of resistance (Stapley, 1980a, 1981). Of six local coconut cultivars were tested in Western Samoa, five were highly susceptible, and green dwarf was fairly resistant (FAO, 1983).
Integrated Pest Management
  • Young palm trees are sprayed with a suspension of M. anisopliae and permethrin in Western Samoa (Waterhouse and Norris, 1987).
  • B. longissima has been controlled in Taiwan by the use of parasites in conjunction with insecticides (Chang, 1991).
Plant Parts Affected
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