Pests > Pests Entities > Insects > Beetles > Brontispa sp. > Brontispa, biocontrol, Maldives

Pests > Pests Entities > Insects > Beetles > Brontispa sp. > Brontispa, biocontrol, Maldives

Pests Pests Entities Insects Beetles Brontispa sp.Brontispa, biocontrol, Maldives

Brontispa sp., Hispine beetle

December 2002. The Maldives reported the presence of a beetle devastating coconuts. The beetle attacks the unopened leaves. It is brownish-black about 1 cm long.

New Caledonia reported that Brontispa longissima (Gestro) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) is present there attacking coconut and other palms, and the photos show a similar beetle.

Others mentioned the spread of this beetle in recent years from its native Melanesia; several countries of south and southeast has become infested. It is also reported from Singapore and Vietnam.

Biological control of Brontispa longissima has worked very well in Samoa, and there are several excellent parasitoids available that can reduce the pest to low levels. The pest leaflet that was used in Samoa for extension/information purposes in the mid-80s can be sent.

Brontispa longissima can be brought under control by classical biological control: there are some 3-4 natural enemies available, of which Tetrastichus brontispae is the one that has received most credit in the literature for bringing the pest under control. From research on Brontispa longissima in Samoa, however, it is likely that there are other species (Eulophidae) that are at least as good as T brontispae, or even better.

Some useful informtion can be found at:

In addition, there is very good information on natural enemies in DF Waterhouse and KR Norris (1987) Biological control – Pacific Prospects. ACIAR. Published by Inkata Press, Melbourne. pp. 134-141.

Later, in January 2003, B longissima was said to be present in China (Hainan Island), in Haikou city and Sanya city, but control measures were not known. A similar beetle was intercepted a few months’ previously on palms from Guangdong Province. However, it was subsequently (March 2003) identified by the Zoology Institute of Chinese Academy of Science as Octodonta nipae (Chrysomellidae), native to Indonesia and Malaysia. Its host includes Metroxylon sagu and Nipa fruitcana. It attacks Washingtonia filifera in Hainan Island. In Pests of Crops in Indonesia, Octodonta (=Plesispa) nipae (Maul.) resembles Plesispa reichi, but has a reddish-brown pronotum and abdomen. It was first found in Malaysia on nipah, rumbia (Metroxylon) and nibung (Oncosperma) palms, and later on rumbia in Java.

References were sent from CSIRO, Australia: see below.

Later, in July 2010, further information was given on the biological control of Brontispa:

T brontispae is a well-known parasitoid of B longissima, but it is nowhere near as efficient and effective in controlling Brontispa as Asecodes hispinarum, which was introduced with FAO assistance in 2003/2005 in VietNam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, PR China, Thailand and Maldives for control of B longissima. In-depth studies and monitoring in southern Vietnam and Maldives showed that pest populations decreased dramatically (over 99%) within 1-1.5 years after the initial introduction of the parasitoid, which in fact helped save the coconut industry in Ben Tre and Tra Vinh provinces. A similar advice regarding the introduction of A hispinarum was provided to the Philippines in 2005/2006 following the incursion of Brontispa, but was not acted upon. Had this been done, Brontispa problem would have been solved by now.

A respondent from the Phiippines wrote to say that while waiting for a decision on the importation of Asecodes the country has continued work with Tetrastichus, Haekeliana, Metarhizium, Beauveria and Chelisoches. At present, the Brontispa problem in the Philippines is not as critical as it was several years ago, and there is confidence in the development of an IPM program for Brontispa. In addition, insecticide use has been drastically reduced.

Pestnet was reminded that Tetrastichus brontispae was easily recognisable as it is somewhat flattened and, thus, quite distinctive when compared to other members of this genus.

Brontispa sp., References

Appert, J. (1974). On two Hispine beetles of the genus Gestronella injurious to coconut palm in Madagascar. Oleagineux 29, 559-564.
Abstract: Following an outbreak of Gestronella centrolineata (Fairm.) on young coconut palms at Sambava (Madagascar (Malagasy Republic)) in 1971, the bionomics and leaf consumption of this species and G. lugubris (Fairm.), another important coconut pest in the area, were studied under controlled conditions at Tananarive in 1972-73. The eggs of the Hispids were laid along the midribs of the folded leaflets and covered by the female with a foamy adhesive that prevented the unfolding of the leaflet; for G. lugubris each group contained 8-12 eggs and for G. centrolineata 1-2. The egg stage lasted 4-12 days for G. centrolineata and 4-14 days for the other species, being shortest at 30 deg C and longest at 18 deg C. The larval stage lasted 47 and 50 days for the two species at 25 deg C and the pupal stage 6.3 and 7.5 days; the adults of both species lived for about a month. Studies of leaf consumption by the larvae and adults indicated that G. lugubris was 1.5 times as injurious as G. centrolineata although its total life-span averaged only 4 days longer. An account is given of the introduction in 1972 of Tetrastichus brontispae (Ferriere), a parasite of the related genus Brontispa, from New Caledonia into Madagascar for the biological control of Gestronella. Parasitisation of the new hosts was successful in the laboratory, and the rearing method is described. Parasites were released at Sambava against G. centrolineata, and the rates of parasitism observed in the 11 months from October 1972 to August 1973 (ranging from 12.5 to 40.3%), as compared with the rates of coconut-palm infestation by G. centrolineata between February 1972 and August 1973, are shown in tables. A slight increase in the infestation rate in February-April 1973 to over 10% and a sharp one from April onwards to over 20%, following the cessation of insecticide treatments from October 1972 to facilitate the establishment of T. brontispae, and also the decline in the rate of parasitism from March 1973 onwards, indicated that the Eulophid is not yet able to prevent multiplication of G. centrolineata. Other possible parasites for introduction into Madagascar are listed.

Appert, J. (1974). Two coleopterous Hispinae of the genus Gestronella attacking coconuts in Madagascar. Oleagineux 29, 559-564.
Abstract: Gestronella centrolineata and G. lugubris can cause extensive leaf damage to coconuts. The introduced parasite Tetrastichus brontispae has been released but evidence of its effectiveness is not yet available.

Baringbing, B. and Karmawati, E. (1992). Effects of diflubenzuron on the coconut pest Brontispa longissima Gestro and its parasite, Tetrastichus brontispae Ferriere. Industrial Crops Research Journal 4, 40-43.
Abstract: The effects of diflubenzuron on the pest Brontispa longissima and the parasitoid Tetrastichus brontispae, and the effect of carbaryl on the parasitoid, were investigated in the laboratory and field in Indonesia in 1989. Treatment of infested coconut palms with 250 and 4000 mg diflubenzuron/litre resulted in 100.00 and 100.00, 48.37 and 100.00, 25.00 and 96.67 and 5.00 and 100.00% mortality of 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-instar larvae and adults of B. longissima, resp. In the laboratory, treatment with diflubenzuron at 1000, 2000 and 4000 mg/litre resulted in 40, 75 and 70% mortality of T. brontispae, resp. Carbaryl caused 100% mortality of the parasitoid at all concn tested (1000, 2000 or 4000 mg/litre).

Boheman, C. H., Fairmaire, H., Gourves, J., and Samuelson, G. A. (1979). The Chrysomelidae of Tahiti (Coleoptera). Pacific Insects 20, 410-415.
Abstract: A key is given to the small chrysomelid fauna of Tahiti, of which only 1 species is endemic (and not known to be economic); the remaining 3 species were introduced recently, and one, Diachus auratus (F.), which is known on strawberry, avocado and clover in the USA [see RAE/A 41, p. 90] and which was found on Delonix regia (Poinciana regia) in Tahiti, is recorded from this island for the first time. Of the other 2 introduced species, Epitrix hirtipennis (Melsh.) is known in North and Central America as a pest of solanaceous crops and was found in Tahiti on these crops but appeared to prefer Physalis spp. to tomato or egg-plant, while Brontispa longissima (Gestro) attacked coconut palms on various Pacific islands as well as Tahiti and its larvae were parasitised by Tetrastichus brontispae (Ferriere). A list is appended of 9 chrysomelid species from coastal South America that were described by C.H. Boheman & L. Fairmaire from ‘Taiti’ in the previous century, in order to clarify any possible confusion with the chrysomelids from Tahiti.

Chiu, S. C. and Chen, B. H. (1985). Importation and establishment of Tetrastichus brontispae, a parasitoid of the coconut beetle, in Taiwan. Special Publication, Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute No. 19, 12-13.
Abstract: The chrysomelid Brontispa longissima has been recognized as a pest of coconuts in Taiwan since 1975. The eulophid Tetrastichus brontispae was introduced to the island and held in quarantine in 1983; field releases were made at 2 sites in 1984 to control the pest. Pupal parasitism rates in the range 9.3-79.9% were obtained. Studies indicated that the parasite had established itself and was providing good control of the chrysomelid.

Chiu, S. C., Chen, Z. C., Chou, L. Y., Chou, K. C., and Chen, C. M. (1988). Biological control of coconut leaf beetle in Taiwan. Journal of Agricultural Research of China 37, 211-219.
Abstract: The establishment in Taiwan of the eulophid Tetrastichus brontispae as a biological control agent of the chrysomelid coconut pest Brontispa longissima is confirmed. Information from studies on the biology of the parasitoid is given. The preferred hosts for ovipositions were 1-4-day-old pupae. Under controlled conditions (21øC and 70-80% RH) the life cycle was completed in 19-21 days. Adult male and female longevities were 11.6 and 14.1 days, respectively. The sex ratio was 3.5 females to 1 male. An average of 20 parasitoids emerged from a single host pupa.

Chiu, S. C. and Chien, C. C. (1989). Control of Diaphorina citri in Taiwan with imported Tetrastichus radiatus. Fruits Paris 44, 29-31.
Abstract: The successful introduction, release and establishment of the parasitoid Tetrastichus radiatus [Tamarixia radiata] in Taiwan since 1983 as a biological control agent against the citrus pest Diaphorina citri is described. A similar programme is at present in progress for controlling the newly introduced coconut pest Brontispa longissima using T. brontispae.

Chiu, S. C., Lai, P. Y., Chen, B. H., Chen, Z. C., and Shiau, J. F. (1985). Introduction, propagation and liberation of a pupal parasitoid, Tetrastichus brontispae, for the control of the coconut leaf beetle in Taiwan. Journal of Agricultural Research of China 34, 213-222.
Abstract: The introduction to Taiwan, rearing and release of the eulophid Tetrastichus brontispae for the biological control of the coconut pest Brontispa longissima is described. In the laboratory, the egg, larval and pupal developmental periods at 21øC were 2-3, 5-6 and 10-11 days, respectively. The adult lifespan was 10.8 days for females and 3.6 days for males. The parasite appeared to prefer to oviposit in 1-day-old pupae of the chrysomelid. Ten releases of a total of 11 456 adults were made during January-July 1984 in Chenchinhu, and 7 releases of 4881 parasites were made during February-June 1984 in Linbien. The percentage parasitism of pupae recorded from field recoveries at the 2 sites was 21.2-79.2 and 9.3-36.2, respectively. The population dynamics of the chrysomelid was studied at the 2 sites in 1983-84. These studies indicated that the parasite prevented most host larvae from developing into adults at Chenchinhu, whereas at Linbien, chrysomelid populations were not effectively suppressed. The parasite was recorded at distances of 2-8 km from the release site at Chenchinhu; such dispersal indicated that the parasite had become established in Taiwan.

Cochereau, P. (1969). Establishment of Tetrastichus brontispae Ferr. (Hymenoptera, Eulophidae), parasite of Brontispa longissima Gestro, var. froggatti Sharp (Coleoptera Chrysomelidae, Hispinae) in the Noumean peninsula. Cahiers ORSTOM serie Biologie No. 7, 139-141.
Abstract: Tetrastichus brontispae (Ferriere), which is native to Java and parasitises Brontispa longissima (Gestro) (longissima var. froggatti Sharp), a pest of coconut palms, was introduced into the Noumean peninsula, New Caledonia, for control of the beetle and became established. The rate of parasitism did not exceed 24%, however, and even the combination of this with fungus diseases and the Dermapterous predator Chelisoches morio (F.) did not keep the incidence of the pest down to a satisfactorily low level.

Hollingsworth, R., Meleisea, S., and Iosefa, T. (1988). Natural enemies of Brontispa longissima (Gestro) in Western Samoa. Alafua Agricultural Bulletin 13, 41-45.
Abstract: Four coconut plantations were sampled in Western Samoa during early 1985 with the aim of finding the most important natural mortality factors for the chrysomelid Brontispa longissima. The eulophid Chrysonotomyia sp. was the most important cause of larval mortality, parasitizing 75% of 4th-instar larvae collected from 2 plantations. An entomogenous fungus (probably Metarhizium anisopliae) was found on adults in 3 of the plantations sampled. In one plantation, this fungus infected approximately 65% of 3rd- and 4th-instar larvae and 27% of adults. The pupal parasitoid Tetrastichus brontispae was recovered from only one plantation and was not an important cause of mortality. Chelisoches morio was common in infested coconut spears (averaging 5.1 nymphs and 1.2 adults/tree) and fed on larvae and pupae of B. longissima in the laboratory.

Maddison, P. A. (1983). Coconut hispine beetle. Advisory Leaflet, South Pacific Commission No. 17, 4 pp.
Abstract: Notes are given on the food-plants, morphology, life-cycle, biological and chemical control of Brontispa longissima (Gestro) and on the damage that it causes on coconut palm (and secondarily on betel palm (Areca catechu) and sago palm [Metroxylon sagu]) in the Pacific islands. The unopened fronds of palms up to 4 or 5 years old were most heavily attacked, and trees weakened by attack were more susceptible to drought and disease. Natural enemies of the pest included Chelisoches morio (F.) (a predator of the adults and possibly of the larvae), Tetrastichus brontispae (Ferriere) (a larval and pupal parasite), Trichogrammatoidea nana (Zhnt.) and Hispidophila brontispae (Ferriere) (egg parasites) and Metarhizium anisopliae (a fungus infecting larvae, pupae and adults). Chemical control is recommended.

Stapley, J. H. (1980). Coconut leaf beetle (Brontispa) in the Solomons. Alafua Agricultural Bulletin 5, 17-22.
Abstract: Notes are given on the distribution in the South Pacific of Brontispa longissima (Gestro), a serious pest of coconut, and on its life-cycle and the nature of the damage it causes. Some varieties of coconut show a high resistance to the beetle and the levels of attack on several varieties studied at Dodo Creek in the Solomon Is. are discussed. Rennel, a variety from the isolated island of Rennel in the Solomon group, is scarcely attacked at all. Chemical control measures, beginning while the palms are still in the nursery have become routine. Methods of biological control that are particularly valuable to control infestation on older and tall palms are discussed. These are the rearing and release of the pupal parasite Tetrastichus brontispae (Ferriere) and the removal of ants of the genus Pheidole from coconut palms and the establishment of Oecophylla smaragdina (F.), which drives out Brontispa and other pests.

Stapley, J. H. (1973). Insect pests of coconuts in the Pacific region. Outlook on Agriculture 7, 211-217.
Abstract: The insect pests of coconut in the Pacific region [cf. RAA/55, 1577] and attempts at their control are reviewed. The use of the virus Rhabdionvirus oryctes to infect adults of Oryctes rhinoceros (L.) by its use in artificial traps [cf. 59, 884, etc.] has given good results. Its use in cap-traps (traps baited with ethyl chrysanthemate, attached to the tops of posts) caused a reduction in damage to palms in the Fijian island of Vomo when the captured and infected beetles were released in the field. Other methods, including plantation hygiene, that are effective against O. rhinoceros are not recommended against another Dynastid, Scapanes australis (Boisd.), because it breeds in the forest and not in the plantation. The control of the latter species is under study in New Britain and the Western Solomon Is. For the biological control of Amblypelta cocophaga China in the Solomon Is. in 1969-73, the tree-nesting ant Oecophylla smaragdina (F.) was encouraged by suppressing the competing ground-nesting ant Pheidole megacephala (F.) (by control of ground vegetation and application of dieldrin at rates that affected P. megacephala but not O. smaragdina). In 1969, before treatment, 3% of the palms in the treated area harboured O. smaragdina, 64% of the trees were barren and the yield averaged 1.3 coconuts/palm. In 1973 the corresponding figures were 44% (having reached 62% in 1972), 5% and 5.8 coconuts/palm. A method for establishing colonies of O. smaragdina is described. The use of the ant is also recommended against Axiagastus cambelli Dist. Injection of monocrotophos into the trunks of palms for the control of Amblypelta cocophaga was shown to be effective but uneconomic. For the control of Brontispa longissima (Gestro), in 1968 the parasite Tetrastichus brontispae (Ferriere) was reintroduced into the Solomon Is. [cf. 46, p. 300, etc.]. The Eulophid spread rapidly and greatly reduced infestation. Chemical control of the Hispid is recommended on young palms, followed by biological control with the Eulophid when the palms are three years old and spray application becomes more difficult.

Stapley, J. H. (1979). Notes on biological control in the Solomon Islands. IOBC Newsletter No. 11-12, 4-5.
Abstract: Biological methods of pest control have been reasonably successful in the Solomon Islands, where the use of insecticides poses various problems. Examples are given of the introduction of natural enemies and the use of indigenous species. Tetrastichus brontispae (Ferriere) was introduced against Brontispa longissima (Gestro) in 1968, and populations of this coconut pest are currently much reduced. Two dung beetles, Onthophagus gazellus (F.) and O. sagittarius (F.), introduced from Australia in 1972, had spread up to 100 miles from release sites by 1976, but their effect on dung-breeding flies has not yet been determined. It is planned to release Rhabdionvirus oryctes against the coconut pest Scapanes australis (Boisd.) during 1979. By planting rice varieties tolerant to Nilaparvata lugens (Stal) and thus avoiding the use of insecticides, control of this pest can be achieved by the 2 indigenous predators Tytthus chinensis (Stal) (Cyrtorhinus chinensis) and C. lividipennis Reut. As spraying against armyworms drastically reduced populations of the predators, resulting in a rapid build-up of N. lugens, the possibility of using Bacillus thuringiensis against armyworms is discussed. The use of the ant Oecophylla smaragdina (F.) against Amblypelta cocophaga China and Axiagastus cambelli Dist. on coconut, and the possible augmentation of egg parasitism by Telenomus sp. on the oil palm pest Mahasena corbetti Tams are also briefly mentioned.

Stechmann, D. H. and Semisi, S. T. (1984). Insect control in Western Samoa with particular reference to the present state of biological and integrated control. Anzeiger fur Schadlingskunde, Pflanzenschutz, Umweltschutz 57, 65-70.
Abstract: Information is reported on the insect pest fauna of the major crops of Western Samoa and the ecological background of the biological or integrated control measures currently in use. On coconut palm, Oryctes rhinoceros (L.) is still the most important pest but is being brought under control by Baculovirus oryctes, which was introduced in 1967. Since this control could be upset by the use of insecticides against Brontispa longissima (Gestro), which was first recorded in Western Samoa in 1980, mass releases of Tetrastichus brontispae (Ferriere) were begun in 1981, and also tests of spores of Metarhizium sp., with a view to the biological control of this species also. The staple crop taro is attacked mainly by Spodoptera litura (F.), especially where insecticides and herbicides are widely used and kill its natural enemies. An integrated pest control model was developed from collected information on crop damage levels and pest populations, and natural populations of Apanteles sp. were augmented by releases of this parasite collected in the field and multiplied in the laboratory. Pest control problems on other crops are mentioned briefly.

Voegele, J. M. (1989). Biological control of Brontispa longissima in Western Samoa: an ecological and economic evaluation. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 27, 315-329.
Abstract: The impact of a biological control programme for the chrysomelid Brontispa longissima on coconuts in Western Samoa was evaluated. Several beneficial insects, including the parasitoids Tetrastichus brontispae and Asecodes sp., were released during 1981, following the introduction of B. longissima in 1980. A study of the mortality factors in 120 subpopulations of the pest was carried out in 1987. Asecodes sp. was the dominant parasitoid in the field, being present in 37% of the samples. T. brontispae was recovered from only 3% of samples and was not an important mortality factor. An extensive survey of damage to 37 000 trees showed that B. longissima was under control and did not cause any significant yield losses (initial production losses were estimated to be as high as 50-70%). The benefit:cost ratio of this project was 3.9:1 during the implementation period (1981-86) and 9.9:1 for 1987-90. The internal rate of return for 1981-90 exceeded 40% and it is concluded that this project was highly successful.

Voegele, J. M., Klingauf, F., and Engelhardt, T. (1989). Studies on the economic returns of biological pest control with a case study from Western Samoa. Gesunde Pflanzen 41, 255-258.
Abstract: The costs and benefits of a biological control programme against Brontispa longissima on coconuts in Western Samoa are analysed. This chrysomelid was accidentally introduced in 1980 and was brought under control with the introduction and establishment of the parasitoids Tetrastichus brontispae and Asecodes sp. Despite relatively high initial costs of 450 000 Western Samoa dollars for the collection, introduction, mass rearing and country-wide release of the parasitoids, positive net returns were already achieved in the 4th year of the project. The internal rate of return exceeds 40% for a 10-year period. All farmers benefit and there are no additional costs at farm level.

Vogele, J. M. and Zeddies, J. (1990). Economic analysis of classical biological pest control: a case study from Western Samoa. Proceedings: Integrated Pest Management in Tropical and Subtropical Cropping Systems ’89 No. 1, 45-51.
Abstract: The biological control of the chrysomelid Brontispa longissima on coconuts in Western Samoa during 1984-87 is described. A steady decline in damage from 42.4% in 1984 to 15.4% in 1987 was noted, following the release of the parasitoids Tetrastichus brontispae and Asecodes sp. during 1981-86. The incidence of palms damaged by B. longissima in plantations and villages was 4 and 22.9%, resp. In American Samoa approximately 74% of all palms were infested compared with only 14.3% in Western Samoa. In American and Western Samoa damage to coconut by B. longissima was 10 and 1-2% of the total leaf area. In Western Samoa, Asecodes sp. was an important cause of larval mortality, being present in 37% of samples, while T. brontispae was present in only 3% of samples. Formicids were present in 20% and forficulids in 64.1% of samples, while chrysomelids infected by Metarhizium sp. were found on 12.5% of sampled trees. No parasitoids were found in American Samoa. An economic evaluation of biological control of B. longissima is presented.