Coconut scale outbreak, Philippines Minimize

February 2014. Following an article on FreshPlaza (http://www.freshplaza.com/article/117509/Philippines-New-pest-fast-destroying-coconut-trees) about a coconut scale outbreak killing coconuts in the Philippines, a member (California Department of Food & Agriculture) wrote the following:

The armoured scale insect outbreak on coconut in the Philippines is not Aspidiotus destructor, the usual scale species on coconut that occurs widely in the Pacific islands. 

 

It is Aspidiotus rigidus Reyne (Hemiptera: Diaspididae), a species native to Indonesia that has a track record of causing occasional, devastating outbreaks on coconut palms in Indonesia and the Philippines. Outbreaks occur when the scale occurs in an environment that lacks any of its usual natural enemies. The present outbreak on the Philippines island of Luzon started in 2009; it has now spread to 5 provinces on the island and is killing palms. I have also seen slight infestations collected from mangosteen.

 

Tropical countries that grow coconut palms might be wise to check any fresh coconut palm material from the Philippines brought into their airports and ports, including green nuts, freshly woven baskets and hats. Any infested material should be burned; avoid transporting it, as this can broadcast crawlers and increase the risk of establishment.

 

At present there are no identification keys available that can separate A. rigidus from A. destructor; morphologically, the species are very similar indeed. I am currently preparing a paper on A. rigidus

 

The good news is that there is also a track record of successful biological control of A. rigidusin Indonesia by coccinellid predators and hymenopteran parasitoids.

 

However, later, the writer said it looks as if the prospects for successful biological control of this pest may not be as rosy as first thought. Which makes it all the more important to take precautions to prevent movement of infested fresh coconut palm material from Luzon to other islands and countries while the current outbreak there is in progress.

Later, a newspaper article was sent to members (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/617354/scientists-warn-vs-use-of-pesticides-on-coco-pest) saying that scientists in Philippines has warned the government against the use of the neonicotinoid insecticide, dinotefuran because of it s potential affects against bees.

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