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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Oryctes rhinoceros (Guam Strain) (Coconut rhinoceros beetle)
The adult male of Oryctes rhinoceros (Source: Emmy Engasser, Hawaiian Scarab ID, USDA APHIS ITP,
General information
The Coconut rhinoceros beetle (CRB), Oryctes rhinoceros (Linn) is a cosmopolitan pest of palms including coconut and oil palm. CRB invaded many Pacific islands in the early 20th century through human-mediated dispersal (Reil et al., 2018) and was first recorded in PNG in 1942 (Catley, 1969). The current invasive pest which is of concern is in fact a new biotype known as CRB Guam (CRB-G) based on its initial discovery in Guam in 2007. However, there are no known phenotypic differences between the individuals from Samoan/Pacific biotype (CRB-S/P) and the individuals from CRB-G biotype; the 2 biotypes can be distinguished only through molecular analysis.

The CRB-G biotype poses an imminent threat to Pacific livelihoods and economies reliant on coconuts; it can be potentially a threat to oil palm and other palms (especially ornamental) species. This biotype is highly invasive and damaging compared to CRB-S/P with the ability to cause significant damage (Marshall et al 2017) and to rapidly adapt to its environment.

  • Adults feed in the crown region of coconut
  • Multiple attacks in a same palm subsequently produce fronds which have wedge-shaped gaps or the characteristic V-shaped cuts to fronds (CABI ISC, 2022)

Damage on palm caused by CRB (Source: Aubrey Moore)

Detection and Inspection
O. rhinoceros bores through the petiole bases into the central unopened leaves. This causes tissue maceration and the presence of a fibrous frass inside the feeding hole is an indication of its activity within (CABI ISC, 2022).
Taxonomic information
Category - Insect
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Arthropoda
Class - Insecta
Order - Coleoptera
Family - Scarabaeidae
Genus - Oryctes
Species - rhinoceros (Guam Strain)
Common Name - Coconut rhinoceros beetle
Scientific Name - Oryctes rhinoceros (Guam Strain)
Since its discovery in Guam Island, the new biotype has been recorded in 4 other Pacific Islands, including PNG (2009), Hawaii (2013), Palau (2014) and the Solomon Islands (2015) (Marshall et al 2017).
Prevention and Control
  • CRB-G has been found to be less responsive to the aggregation pheromone (ethyl 4-methyloctanoate) which is used in IPM programmes i.e. for monitoring and control of CRB.
  • CRB has also been managed through the introduction of a strain of Oryctes NudiVirus (Rhabdionvirus oryctes) which was successfully introduced into the Pacific Islands (Bedford, 2014).
  • Recent studies based on molecular analysis revealed that CRB-G is resistant to Oryctes NudiVirus (Marshall et al 2017).
  • Reil et al (2018), using various genetic (e.g. ddRAD sequencing) and phylogenetic analyses, suggested that the O. rhinoceros (CRB-G) resurgence is mediated by the resistance to previously successful OrNV nudivirus.
  • General sanitation practices that involve keeping areas free of green waste help to reduce the number of breeding sites.
  1. Bedford, G.O. (2014). Advances in the control of rhinoceros beetle, Oryctes rhinoceros in oil palm. Journal of Oil Palm Research, 26,183-194.
  2. CABI ISC, 2022. Oryctes rhinoceros (coconut rhinoceros beetle). Assessed at
  3. Reil, J.B., Doorenweerd, C., San Jose, M., Sim, S.B., Geib, S.M., & Rubinoff, D. (2018). Transpacific coalescent pathways of coconut rhinoceros beetle biotypes: Resistance to biological control catalyses resurgence of an old pest. Molecular Ecology, 27, 4459-4474.
  4. Catley, A. (1969). The coconut rhinoceros beetle Oryctes rhinoceros (L.). PANS, 15, 18–30.
  5. Marshall, S.D.G., Moore, A., Vaqalo, M., Noble, A. & Jackson, T.A. (2017). A new haplotype of the coconut rhinoceros beetle, Oryctes rhinoceros, has escaped biological control by Oryctes rhinoceros Nudivirus and is invading Pacific Islands. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 149.
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