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Coconut rhinoceros beetle in Samoa: Review of a century-old invasion and prospects for control in a changing future

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 20:28 authored by Sulav PaudelSulav Paudel, Sean MarshallSean Marshall, Nicola Richards, George Hazelman, Pueata Tanielu, Trevor Jackson
It is now more than 100 years since the coconut rhinoceros beetle (CRB: Oryctes rhinoceros L.) was first detected in the Pacific Island state of Samoa. The exotic pest from Asia became the principal pest of coconut palms in Samoa and, from this first point of invasion, spread to several surrounding countries in the South-West Pacific Ocean. An intensive control operation was initiated, but the beetle could not be eliminated. Various pest management strategies were attempted but had limited success until the introduction of a biological control agent (BCA), Oryctes rhinoceros nudivirus (OrNV), during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The biocontrol release was very successful and became the prime example of “classical biological control” of an insect pest by a virus. Changing economic and social conditions in Samoa and other islands of the Pacific require a re-evaluation of the threat of CRB to coconut production to suggest how the IPM system may be modified to meet future needs. Therefore, it is timely to review the history of CRB in Samoa and summarize experiences in development of an integrated pest management (IPM) system limiting the impact of the pest. We also present results from a recent study conducted in 2020 on the island of Upolu to define the current status of the CRB population and its BCA, OrNV. The lessons from Samoa, with its long history of containment and management of CRB, are applicable to more recent invasion sites. Recommendations are provided to modify the IPM programme to enhance the sustainable control of CRB and support the ongoing coconut replantation program promoted by the Samoan government.


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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/).


  • English

Does this contain Māori information or data?

  • No



Journal title





Paudel, S., Marshall, S. D. G., Richards, N. K., Hazelman, G., Tanielu, P., & Jackson, T. A. (2022). Coconut rhinoceros beetle in Samoa: Review of a century-old invasion and prospects for control in a changing future. Insects, 13(5), 487.