EVERY Palm Tree in Torrevieja, numbering around 3,800 in total are being trimmed, sprayed with pesticide and cleaned, due to further attacks by the Red Palm Weevil.
Due to the continued hot weather, the Red Palm Weevil has infected many trees throughout the Vega Baja.
The Red Palm Weevil, is a species of beetle, rusty red in colour and fairly large at between two and five centimetres in length. It is the larvae of this beetle, which causes the damage by excavating holes of up to a metre long inside the trunk of the palm tree, killing the host plant.
As a result, the Red Palm Weevil is the major pest of palm plantations throughout the world. The adult female lays around two hundred eggs on new growth or in open lesions in the plant.
The eggs hatch into a white legless larva, which feed on the soft fibres and terminal buds, tunnelling their way through to the internal tissue. At pupation, after about a month, the larva will leave the tree and form a cocoon built of dry fibres and leaf litter at the base of the tree.
This cycle takes between 7 and 10 weeks. The first noticeable symptoms are that the crown, then the lower leaves begin to wilt.
However, by the time that these symptoms become visible, it is probably too late to save the tree. Whilst sounds of the larva burrowing can be heard by placing an ear to the trunk of the tree, expert tend to use modern, electronic listening devices to assist in the early detection of infestations.
The main method of control is through the application of systematic insecticide applied through a funnel. As the weevil prefers to lay its eggs in softer tissues, avoiding mechanical damage to the tree itself can assist in the reduction of infestation.
Dragging of mature leaves should be avoided.
An outbreak of infected trees was first noted and then treated in 2010 in the area of Urbanizations La Siesta, El Chaparal, San Luis and Paraje Natural. Infected tress were cut down and destroyed. The treatment of infected trees and especially their removal and disposal should be done with extreme care and preferably by a qualified specialist.
The Ayuntamiento have recently noted the illegal dumping of infected tree stumps, in many cases, the dumping having been the responsibility of so called ‘professional gardeners’, on open land and even on the verge alongside a main road!
This type of irresponsible dumping is extremely dangerous and will only lead to the further spread of the infection to healthy trees in the vicinity.
In all cases where it is suspected that a palm tree (in Torrevieja) may be infected by the Red Palm Weevil, the public are asked to immediately notify the Policia Local environmental patrol by telephoning: 687 520 972.
The call will be answered in English if required. The Oficina de Atención al Residente Internacional (oari) ,telephone 96 570 6159, will also be pleased to assist international residents who are concerned about the problem.
Although Torrevieja may be one of the first to attack the problem head on, if you suspect that a Tree is showing symptoms of infestation outside of Torrevieja, please contact your local Town Hall shoes environmental departing will advise on treating the problem.