Fight against palm beetle continues.jpg

Fight against palm beetle continues

By ELOISE WALTON [email protected]

A plan of action against the red palm weevil is in place in most councils to stem the spread of the plague that is destroying popular ornamental palm trees used in many public spaces and private gardens across the region.

Most of the weevil’s life cycle takes place within the palm itself, making it very hard to notice before the problem is out of control. Common first signs that the bug has been hard at work include collapsing fronds followed by the total destruction of the palm’s crown.

The main part of the fronds appears green and healthy, but the bases where they join the trunk are brown and full of holes created by the white grubs.

Sandra Moreira, a spokeswoman from Silves Câmara, told the Algarve Resident: “We have several measures in place to fight this plague which have been recommended by the regional agricultural authority.”

To treat palms that have been affected by the weevil, Silves Câmara uses a product called Biorend. However, they are also implementing an environmentally friendly method to prevent the spread of the plague and cure the palm tree with the use of nematodes.

“These are a parasite that attack and eventually kill the weevil, but if there are no weevils, then the nematodes do not harm the palms in any way,” she said.

“We also use pheromone traps to catch the weevils and gauge the intensity of the plague in Silves, which allows us to determine what treatment is best.”

In case a palm has died or cannot be saved from a weevil attack in Silves’ public gardens, the palms are either burnt on site to avoid contamination by transport or taken to the landfill to be burnt if there are not many weevils.

Aníbal Moreno from the environmental department at Loulé Câmara said that their treatment methods for palm trees that are infected by the weevil include injections and spraying with two products, Vertimec and Confidor.

“The palms are monitored and we have also been using nematodes,” he said.

Large and well established palm trees in public gardens are also undergoing preventative treatment against the plague with the same products.

“For palms that have no hope of recovery, these are cut down and taken to a landfill site where they should be incinerated,” said Aníbal Moreno.

A spokesman from Faro Câmara told the Algarve Resident: “We spray Phoenix canariensis trees every 45 days. We alternate between two products, Confidor and Vertimec, which are authorised by the Direcção Geral de Protecção de Culturas (DGPC ) – the regional authority for the protection of cultures.”

Trees that have died in Faro are removed and taken to ALGAR, the regional solid waste treatment company.

Algarve resident and garden specialist Clive Goodacre said: “People who have palms should monitor them regularly and take action at the first sign of infection.

“It is best to spray the crown of the palms thoroughly with a pesticide such as Confidor around three or four times a year. This is not an expensive treatment and I advise people to get a few quotes from different companies first.”

According to Clive Goodacre, people should not attempt to buy the chemical products and spray the palms themselves as it is dangerous and those without experience may not apply it correctly or in sufficient quantity.

For more information about treating the red palm weevil in your garden, please contact your local Câmara who will be able to provide help and advice on treating or disposing of dead palms.

On December 4, a specialist on the red palm weevil plague will be giving a talk at Silves library for garden experts and the general public.

For details about this talk, please contact Silves Câmara on 282 440 800.