Pest of the Month January 2013 – Coconut Leaf Beetles (Brontispa longissma – PEST ALERT & Brontispa chalybeipennis – in Hawaii)

Most of the info below is for B. longissma.

  1. Distribution: Native to Indonesia andPapua New Guinea.  Found in Australia, many Pacific Islands, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, the Maldives, Myanmar, and China
  2. Hosts: Coconut palms preferred, attacks more than 20 palm species including royal palm, Alexandra palm,Californiafan palm, Mexican fan palm, bottle palm, Chinese fan palm, and sago palm.
  3. Damage: Attacks palms of all ages but young palms are more susceptible. Larvae chew on the spear leaf.  Leaflets curl and turn brown with a scorched and ragged appearance. 
  4. Control
    Mechanical – blockading and destroying palms up to 3 km from the infestation
    spot to keep the beetle from spreading
    Chemical – several insecticides, but treatments only last 3-4 months.
    Biological – 2 parasitoids have been successfully used to control the beetle.  There is also a fungus that is promising.  HDOA released two biocontrols in 1986 and in 1991 for B. chalybeipennis

1. Coconut leaf beetle Brontispa longissima, Asia-Pacific Forest Invasive Species Network, compiled and edited by Dr. K. V. Sankaran.
2. Introductions for Biological Control in Hawaii, 1987-1996, Thomas W. Culliney and Walter T. Nagamine, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Proc. Hawaiian Entomological Society (2000) 34:101-113 excerpts.


Leaves damaged by coconut leaf beetle, Brontispa longissima; Photo courtesy of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)