Other Diseases and Pests

Click here for lethal yellowing

Termites The resulting trunk damage does not usually kill the tree but restricts its future growth due to irreversible damage. Control: If infected then ring the trunk base with insecticide on a wick rope. Termites are killed when they cross the barrier to get water from the soil.


Woodpecker Produces massive damage to the trunk when nesting. The entrance hole is 3 in. but the nest cavity inside is the size of a 1/2 gal milk jug. The result is 'penciling' or 'pencil top' where there is a gradual reduction in trunk diameter under the crown and the fronds shorten as the tree cannot feed itself sufficiently anymore. Control: this is when you find out if you are more of a tree lover than a bird lover..
Palm Weevil Commonly known as the 'bug' or 'bicho de coco'
This is a giant 3 in. flying black weevil that is attracted to wounded/dying or young trees to feed on. It likes to colonize in a tree's crown and it lays its eggs at the base of the inside of the petioles or in wound holes in the trunk.
The eggs hatch into larvae that eat through the palm tree and within 30 days they reach the size of a small sausage at which time they usually eat the apical meristem (heart) of the tree and thus kill it. When in epidemic numbers the weevils only kill a maximum of 20% of the tree population.

Symptoms: 1-drooping of the bottom fronds 2-drying up and browning of those fronds 3-most of the coconuts drop 4- blackening of the flowers 5-The crown emits a rotten stinking smell 6-the top topples over and the tree is dead.
Prevention: 1-do not prune green fronds 2-do do make chop wounds to the trunk 3-avoid dumping rotten fruit around your property 4-pick papaya/bananas before they ripen on your trees (they are attracted to fruit).
Controls: The only effective contol is through phytosantitation - this means chopping down and destroying all infected palms at an early stage so the nests of larvae cannot hatch and re-populate an area. The head of the palm needs to be split open and all larvae destroyed. Burning the heads does not kill the larvae in the middle of the trunk. Trapping with pheremones and poisoned fruit has been proven ineffective and in some cases, it actually increased the weevil damage.


Red Ring The pathogen is a nematode (microscopic primitive spaghetti shaped worm)
The vector (carrier) is the Palm Weevil which carries the nematodes in its reproductive system. When the weevil lays its eggs in the tree it also deposits the nematodes which breed and multiply in the palm's vascular trunk tissue. The nematodes destroy this tissue and eventually kill the tree if the weevil eggs did not hatch.

Symptoms: 1-Most of the nuts drop leaving the perianth on the flower stalk. (The perianth is the original flower that is attached to the nut) 2-blackening of the flowers 3-foilar bronzing and some 'snapping' of the frond stalks 4-death of the bud 5-there will be a brownish/brick red splotchy ring in the lower sections of the trunk if the tree is cut down at the terminal stage of the infection.
Prevention: Control the Palm Weevil population.
Notes: 1-It usually takes 3-12 months for the tree to die depending on its size 2-Foilar bronzing can occur at the same time as nutfall 3-If the eggs hatch from the weevil then the larvae will kill the tree before the nematodes do their damage 4-weevils can also be attracted to a tree that is dying from red ring.


Coconut mite This is a tiny mite that lives under the perianth of the nut which then becomes slightly deformed and usually has a scaly dried out band around the whole nut. Many of trees on the cayes have mites. There is no effective control.



This summary was written by Chris Berlin. For OTC treatments or for help with anything to do with coconut palms contact:
Chris Berlin
Fax: 011-501-226 3379

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