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Red Palm Weevil

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The Red Palm Weevil is a species of snout beetle also known as the Asian Palm Weevil. The adult beetles are relatively large, ranging between two and five centimeters long, and are usually a rusty red colour. Weevil larvae can excavate holes in the trunk of a palm tree up to a meter long, thereby weakening and eventually killing the host plant. As a result, the weevil is considered a major pest in palm plantations. Originally from tropical Asia, the Red Palm Weevil has spread to Africa and Europe, reaching the Mediterranean in the 1980s. It was first recorded in Spain in 1994, and in France in 2006. Additional infestations have been located in Malta and Italy, and there are suspect reports suggesting that it has established along the Mediterranean coast of Portugal as well. Researchers also suspect that it has established in Morocco, Algeria and other North African countries. The Red Palm Weevil usually infests palms younger than twenty years. While the adult causes some damage through feeding, it is the burrowing of the larva into the heart of the palm that can cause the greatest mortality of trees. The adult female lays approximately two hundred eggs on new growth in the crown of the palm, at the base of young leaves, or in open lesions on the plant. The larva will feed on the soft fibers and terminal buds, tunneling through the internal tissue of the tree for about a month. The larvae leave the tree and form a cocoon built of dry palm fibers in leaf litter at the base of the tree. The total life cycle takes about 7–10 weeks. Currently, the pest is reported in almost 15% of the global coconut-growing countries and in nearly 50% of the date palm-growing countries. In these photos, if you look closely, you will notice that this beetle is carrying hundreds of babies under her head. The larval grub is considered a delicacy in much of Southeast Asia. “Sago Delight” or “Fried Sago Worms” are considered a speciality in Malaysia, although versions of this dish can be found in many Southeast Asian countries, where it is regarded as a delicacy. Sago grubs have been described as creamy tasting when raw, and like bacon or meat when cooked. They are often prepared with sago flour. In New Guinea, sago worms are roasted on a spit to celebrate special occasions.