Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2011
Publication Date: 12/1/2011
Citation: Mukhtar, M., Rasool, K.G., Parrella, M.P., Sheikh, I., Pain, A., Lopez-Llorca, L.V., Mankin, R.W. 2011. New initiatives for managment of red palm weevil threats to historical Arabian date palms. Florida Entomologist. 94:733-736. Interpretive Summary: Scientists from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Spain,and the USA (USDA-Agriculture Research Service, Center for Medical Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville, Florida) held a workshop to consider the problem of red palm weevil (RPW) that has become an important pest of date palms in the Arabian Gulf region, Europe, and Northern Africa. The participants agreed to pursue additional studies in three areas: 1. Devising and testing of integrated pest management strategies including biological, chemical and biotechnological methods as proof of concept of efficient RPW control in farm and urban palms. 2. Comparing of currently available detection technologies (e.g., acoustic detection and X-ray digital analysis) in terms of their economic and logistic feasibility. 3. Developing biosensors for red palm weevil by identifying chemicals the tree uses in its defense after it is attacked.
Technical Abstract: The date palm is an important part of the religious, cultural, and economic heritage of the Arabian Peninsula. This heritage is threatened by the recent invasion of the red palm weevil(RPW) from Southeast Asia. In Saudi Arabia, a national campaign for control of RPW by containment/destruction of infested plants, injection and spraying of biochemical and chemical pesticide treatments in heavily infested and newly infested areas, and the use of pheromone/kairomone traps for monitoring and reduction of RPW populations has been only partially successful in controlling its spread. New methods are needed to help manage the RPW populations. At a workshop in Riyadh in March 2010, plans were recommended to 1) devise and test new biological, chemical, and biotechnological methods to manage RPW in farms and urban palms; 2) compare the economic and logistic feasibility of acoustic and other detection methods against RPW larvae; and 3) develop biosensor indicators of RPW infestation in date palms. If these initiatives are successful, they will be of great assistance to landscape and orchard managers dealing with such a challenging pest of a highly valuable tree.