South American Palm Weevil invades Pacific Beach trees
Published - 02/21/20 - 12:00 PM | 6926 views | 60 60 comments | 62 62 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The South American Palm Weevil took out a tree at 1830 Reed Ave. COURTESY PHOTO
The South American Palm Weevil took out a tree at 1830 Reed Ave. COURTESY PHOTO
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It appears a palm weevil infestation that has been moving up from the U.S.-Mexico border has finally found its way to Pacific Beach.

Evidence of that is a dead palm at 1830 Reed Ave. that had to be taken down recently by the City. 

The culprit in that “slaying” turned out to be the South American Palm Weevil that is known to attack Canary Date Palms.

“It all happened so fast, like almost overnight. I didn’t know what was happening,” said Carole Cruz, the owner of the now-deceased Canary Date Palm on Reed Avenue. “There was no forewarning. I had noticed the tree had flattened out on the top, on the crown shaft. Within a few days, 70% of the (palm) fronds had turned brown.”

Unfortunately, added Cruz, “By the time you see it’s a problem — it’s too late.”

The City responded to news of the PB weevil infestation.

“The presence of the South American Palm Weevil has increased in San Diego County in the last few years,” said City spokesperson Anthony Santacroce. “Initial instances were found in San Ysidro, in the Tijuana River Valley several years ago. The infestation moved up to Logan Heights, Sherman Heights, Mountain View and surrounding neighborhoods about two years ago. A few finds were in City Heights last year. Downtown and Hillcrest/Mission Hills were next.”

Added Santacroce, “More recently, we have found South American Palm Weevil in Point Loma, PB, Mission Valley, and a possible find in La Jolla.”

The South American palm weevil, Rhynchophorus palmarum, has a known distribution in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. This weevil presents an enormous threat to the ornamental and edible date palm industries in California, as well as the state’s urban landscape, which is defined by such palms. 

The South American Palm Weevil is a notorious palm pest in its native and invaded ranges.

Damage to palm trees results primarily from larval feeding in the heart of the palm. This relatively soft and fleshy growing material is typically found in the crown or top part of the palm tree, and it is responsible for generating new fronds. Heavy larval infestations in this region can result in crown collapse and palm mortality.  

Highly damaged areas of palms take on a characteristic appearance as the crown tilts, collapses, and dies. Palms in the advanced stages of attack and mortality have a flattened top, and as the remaining halo of fronds that ring the top of the trunk dry down, the palm looks like a giant brown umbrella or mushroom.

“It’s apparent that it (weevil infestation) is happening all over the City,” contended Cruz, adding she feels the City is spending public money elsewhere and “doesn’t have a dime to spend on community needs. This could be devastating here in PB with all these decades-old palms, which won’t be easily replaced.”

Santacroce added the City is well aware of the South American Palm Weevil and its potential effects on palms.

“We have been working with both the County Agriculture Weights and Measures team as well as UC Riverside researchers on actively removing infested palms,” he said. “We encourage residents to use the Get-it-Done App to report signs of declining date palms in parks or along the City right-of-way.”

More information on the South American Palm Weevil can be found at biocontrol.ucr.edu/south_american_palm_weevil.html.
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June 09, 2020
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June 09, 2020
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