Hawaii state entomologists seek public health pinpointing invasive beetle in Nanakuli

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HONOLULU — Hawaii entomologists are asking the public to help them pinpoint the source of an infestation of invasive coconut rhinoceros beetle in Nanakuli.

The state Department of Agriculture is asking people who live between Nanakuli Avenue and Lualualei Homestead Road on Oahu to allow compost or mulch on their properties to be inspected for signs of infestation, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://is.gd/eOrYVg) reported.

"No one is going to get in trouble," said Robert Curtiss, a department entomologist and beetle incident commander. "We just want to get to the source and prevent it from spreading any further."

Beetles found in three cases in Nanakuli likely originated from a load of organic material, according to Curtiss. The last known Oahu breeding site was destroyed last week at Iroquois Point.

The large insects bore into the crowns of coconut and other palm trees to feed on sap, killing or damaging the trees.

The beetles were first detected on Oahu in December 2013 on a Hickam Air Force Base golf course. In Guam, the beetle has been the focus of eradication efforts.

On Oahu, the state has set and maintained hundreds of traps across the island. Officials say 55 adult beetles were found in traps and mulch surveys in the first two weeks of February. In the same period, 14 dead or damaged palms were removed.

Hawaii scientists have been using bird netting to trap the beetles.

Their counterparts in Guam conducted their own experiments with different types of netting. University of Guam entomologists discovered that a type of gillnet called "tekken" was being used by some fisherman to prevent beetles in compost piles from attacking nearby trees.

In Hawaii, entomologists have used tekken with other types of netting. Tekken use for battling the rhinoceros beetle is still in the experimental stage, according to Curtiss.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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