Drs Trevor Jackson and Sean Marshall were part of an NZ MFAT funded project to assist the Solomon Islanders to find a solution to an invasive coconut rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros).
The beetle damages the palms by boring into the palm stem and feeding on the sap. If the beetle attack is heavy the palm will die. The beetle infestations occur in commercial copra and palm oil production as well as coconut palms that are essential to the daily livelihoods of villagers who depend on coconuts as part of their regular diet.
“The attack has been much worse than we anticipated,” said Dr Jackson “mature oil palm are being killed in the plantations as well as the young replants. In some areas there is almost total destruction of the coconut palms, much worse than our first predictions of 50% loss”.