SAN DIEGO–County, state and University of California officials plan to hold a meeting Aug. 18 to update the public, the nursery industry, landscapers and arborists about the troubling discovery of exotic weevils that threaten several species of crop-bearing and landscape palms.
The County’s Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture are closely watching the weevil situation. Eight South American palm weevils were discovered in the last few weeks in the San Ysidro area near the U.S. – Mexico border. The seriousness of this species is not fully known. Meanwhile, a close relative, the red palm weevil, dubbed the “world’s worst pest of palms” was discovered in August 2010 for the first time ever in the U.S. in a palm tree in Laguna Beach.
The informational meeting will run from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the San Diego County Farm Bureau offices at 1670 E. Valley Parkway in Escondido. Officials will present the latest information about the weevil discoveries, what agencies are doing, what actions they might take, how to identify the pests and what people can do to help.
Finding out how far the weevils have spread is crucial in planning a response. Anyone seeing a weevil 1 ½ inch to 2 inches long with a long, pronounced “snout” should report it. Weevils smaller than 1 ½ inches are not a concern. Officials said it is difficult to detect weevil infestations because they live inside palms, but that infested palms will often suffer notched new fronds or damage to the top of the crown.
Palms that the South American palm weevil threatens includes: date palms, Canary Island date palms, coconut palms, African oil palms, sago palms and Washingtonia fan palms. Adult South American palm weevils are black and sometimes have a velvety appearance.
People who believe that their palms may have South American palm weevils are being asked to call the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s toll-free pest hotline at 1-800-491-1899, or at 619-698-1046.