New Initiatives for Management of Red Palm Weevil Threats to Historical Arabian Date Palms
The date palm is an important part of the religious, cultural, and economic heritage of the Arabian Peninsula. This heritage is threatened by the recent invasion of the red palm weevil (RPW) from Southeast Asia. In Saudi Arabia, a national campaign for control of RPW by containment/destruction of infested plants, injection and spraying of biochemical and chemical pesticide treatments in heavily infested and newly infested areas, and the use of pheromone/ kairomone traps for monitoring and reduction of RPW populations has been only partially successful in controlling its spread. New methods are needed to help manage the RPW populations. At a workshop in Riyadh in March 2010, plans were recommended to 1) devise and test new biological, chemical, and biotechnological methods to manage RPW in farms and urban palms; 2) compare the economic and logistic feasibility of acoustic and other detection methods against RPW larvae; and 3) develop biosensor indicators of RPW infestation in date palms. If these initiatives are successful, they will be of great assistance to landscape and orchard managers dealing with such a challenging pest of a highly valuable tree.