Wanted: Coconut pest spies
Roxas City (12 September) -- The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is urging the public to report to its respective provincial offices and local government units any sighting of brontispa longissima - infested coconut tree to help contain the rapidly spreading coconut pest.
Brontispa is a coconut hispine beetle that feeds on the soft tissues of coconut fronds which then appear burned or scorched enough to kill the coconut. It is generally a centimeter long, flat and slender beetle.
"Join the war against brontispa, be a spy or an informer," said a PCA whole-page announcement published in a regional daily.
"The PCA has the solution. Report any sighting of brontispa-infested coconut tree so we can unleash the Earwig pest terminator," the announcement added.
Earwig is a local natural predator of brontispa which has been mass produced by the PCA to combat the coconut pest.
Earlier, PCA Provincial Coconut Development Manager Jeffrey delos Reyes said the beetle causes great damage to seedlings and mature coconut palms, kills the young spears and eventually the whole palm.
Ornamental palms suffer the same fate, he added.
Delos Reyes's concern was brought about by the discovery of specimen of larva and mature brontispa attacking palms at Boracay Island in Aklan last August 10.
"Refrain from bringing plants to the province," Delos Reyes urged Capiceņos during a press conference in view of the recently concluded 21st National Coconut week celebration.
The province remains free from the coconut pest.
For his part, PCA Regional Manager Jose S. Cruz said "all efforts must be done to prevent movement of coconut and ornamental palms from Boracay to the mainland of Aklan," in a regional memorandum to all PCA Provincial Coconut Development Managers (PCDMs) last month.
The pest was presumably introduced to the Philippines in early 2004 through the importation of ornamental palms based on the information sent by the Brontispa Action Team to the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD).
The PCA website said the pest is fast spreading and has recently been found in a few young palms in Candelaria, Quezon; Bay, Laguna; and San Vicente, Lipa City.
The palms on Baywalk, Roxas Blvd. and those along the entire stretch of Silang to Dasmarinas highway in Cavite also show visible damage from the pest. (PIA/A. Lumaque) [top]