Red awl

Red awl

The red palm weevil

The red palm weevil, whose scientific name is "Rhynchophorus Ferrugineus", is a parasite that currently represents the most feared danger from many types of palms. It is a beetle of Asian origin that has spread enormously after some infected palms were marketed first in Arab countries and later in Europe where it appeared for the very first time in Spain in 1994. It is 2004 when the red weevil is reported also in Italy, precisely in Pistoia. Since then the spread of this dreaded beetle has been really fast and its action so destructive that in a few years it has led to the inevitable slaughter of thousands of palm trees. The life of this insect is not very long (on average 3 months) but its proliferation is guaranteed by the deposition of a large number of eggs at each cycle.

The symptoms of red weevil infestation

Palm trees are the favorite victims of the red weevil that is not called "palm trees". No variety passes undamaged: coconut palms, date palms, oil palms, ornamental palms and many other types. It has been proved that the red weevil also irreparably attacks sugar canes. For a very long time the infested plants remain completely asymptomatic. The very first symptoms occur already when the palm is irretrievably compromised. The foliage begins to have anomalous portions, closing "like an umbrella". Subsequently the palms begin to remain without leaves. The further you go, the worse the situation gets until the palm completely collapses. It is only at this moment that the red weevil leaves the palm to infest the next one.

How to fight the red awl effectively

In Italy, fighting the red weevil is mandatory by law based on the provisions of the Ministerial Decree 9/11/2007 "- Provisions on the mandatory fight against the red palm weevil". This operation is still a very complicated operation, especially because the adult weevil moves with extreme simplicity and often the protection barriers are useless. The chemical treatment, to be effective, must include an early diagnosis (which is very complicated). Indeed, late interventions are ineffective. In Asia, but also in Europe, pheromone traps are often experienced. But even in this case the success rates must be further improved. Prunings are operations that can be used to reduce the risk of infestation because there is less possibility of penetration by the punch. Then the sick palms must be burned quickly.

Red weevil: International conference on the fight against the red weevil

The situation to be dealt with is so serious because of the red weevil infestation that a long time ago took place in the Ligurian city of Sanremo (a town heavily affected by the parasite) the so-called "International convention on the fight against the red weevil". On this occasion the specimens of palms already affected by the infestation were counted and a particular list containing 7 chemical elements that could save the palms was spread. These are Abamectin, Azadiractin, Ciflutrin, Chlorpyrifos, Chlorpyrifos-methyl, Clothianidin and Imidacloprid. The first 2 should be given to palms endotherapically twice a year. Alternatively, they should be spread on the ground to be absorbed by the roots. On the other hand, Ciflutrin, Chloripyrifos and Chlorpyrifos-methyl would be applied directly on the foliage of the palms to be protected.