Red Palm Weevil, (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) (Olivier)
The red palm weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus), a serious pest of palms, is native to Southeast Asia and has spread through parts of Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, and in North America to the Netherland Antilles. Among palm weevil species, the red palm weevil has spread to the greatest number of countries, probably due to its association with the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), which is propagated by offshoots.
The red palm weevil is a major economic pest of palms, including coconut, date, oil, and sago palms. United States date palm production encompasses approximately 7891 acres, primarily in California and Arizona. The greatest potential economic impact to the United States if the red palm weevil became introduced would be the destruction of palms in the landscape areas, especially in tourist areas of the southern United States and the territories. The preferred hosts of the red palm weevil are Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix canariensis) as well above other Phoenix spp. In Spain, the problem originated with the import of date palm, Phoenix dactylifera; Canary Islands date palms became infested afterwards.
There is an array of color variations across the native and introduced range of Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, and the taxonomy has changed multiple times in the past. Recent molecular research suggests that Rhynchophorus ferrugineus may actually be a species complex composed of two or more cryptic species (Rugman-Jones et al., 2013). The suggested second species, Rhynchophorus vulneratus, is currently synonymized under Rhynchophorus ferrugineus.
APHIS Program Publications
South American Palm Weevil, Rhynchophorus palmarum (Linnaeus)
South American Palm Weevil (SAPW), Rhynchophorus palmarum, as one of three 'giant' palm weevils of the genus Rhynchophorus, has its origins in Central and South America and is considered an important pest of palms, specifically date and coconut palms. Sugarcane is also considered a host for this pest. The weevil damages palm trees by direct feeding by larvae on fruits, stems, buds, and leaves, but also by transmitting the nematode, Bursaphelenchus cocophilus, which can cause red-ring disease in coconut and oil palms. On sugarcane, the weevil directly damages the crop by boring through the tissues of the plant as a larva. R. palmarum preferentially attacks weakened or diseased trees but is also capable of attacking healthy trees. It is capable of high velocity flight but its ability for long distance migration is not documented. Any migration would probably be limited because 1) it only flies during daylight hours, and 2) their flight appears primarily in response to chemical cues.
APHIS Program Publications
National Policy Manager