The red palm weevil, a pest dreaded for its lethal effect on stately palm trees, has been lying low in Laguna Beach, where it was first discovered last year.
Although some palm trees have been treated in Laguna Beach as a precaution, the Orange County agricultural commissioner’s office says no live specimens of red palm weevil have been found since October 2010.
“Nothing is new in terms of the population of the weevil,” said Nick Nisson, an entomologist with the agricultural commissioner’s office.
In the last couple weeks, some local residents and business owners have chosen to treat their palm trees, which were once inhabited by red palm weevil. There was no evidence in the trees of weevil activity.
UC Riverside, the University of California’s agricultural extension, California Food and Agriculture and the county agricultural commissioner’s office all observed the treatment of the palms.
There is no specific treatment that was used, just a common pesticide, which was injected into the tree, Nisson said.
They will most likely follow the trajectory of the treatment in the tree and track its progress, watching the palm leaves and other parts.
“I think everyone is cautiously optimistic,” Nisson said about the lack of red palm weevil. “Nobody is calling us and saying ‘Hey, we found your weevil’.”
He also said the warmer months are a time for residents to watch their palms.
The Coastline Pilot reported on the red palm weevil in November of last year, when the weevil was found for the first time on American soil in two Laguna Beach palm trees.
The red palm weevil is a beetle that burrows its way to the soft tissue of the palm and lays eggs.
The larvae then bore into the tissue, feeding on it and rotting the most significant parts of the tree, Nisson said.
Mike Bennett, deputy agricultural commissioner, mentioned that scientists may have found a new species of palm weevil near the San Diego-Mexico border. There is no word on that yet.