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The efficacy of SPLAT lures in mass trapping the coconut beetle, Oryctes rhinocerous

| August 5, 2014

The Coconut rhinoceros beetle, Oryctes rhinoceros, is a pest which attacks the developing fronds of coconut, oil palm, and other landscape and decorative palms in Asia. Damaged fronds show typical triangular cuts. The beetle has the capacity to kill palm trees, particularly newly planted ones, when the growing point is destroyed by feeding. The larvae of the beetle do not damage crops, but instead develop in dead, decaying trunks and other organic matter around the area. Sometimes this development could be far from the area of the actual infestation – which is why the beetles are difficult to control. Most control strategies continue to rely on spraying insecticides on the young growing tips of the trees as well as the whole tree when it is young and shorter in height. Spraying becomes difficult when the trees grow to a certain height and so is often neglected, allowing continued breeding and leading to beetle population growth.

Beetle_150Rhinocerous beetle was found to be an occasional pest in urban areas of Manila, particularly on decorative palms and coconut trees growing around resorts and hotels. The owners of such properties had complained about the lack of control measures for quite some time and an effort was made to introduce an innovative method for control. So a mass trapping experiment was conducted in a private beach resort to test the efficacy of SPLAT-RB formulation in trapping this pest.

SPLAT® (Specialized Pheromone & Lure Application Technology) consists of a biologically inert matrix for the release of semiochemicals without pesticides. The product is an innovative formulation developed by ISCA-Technologies, a company based in California. The SPLAT-RB formulation is a lure which emits an aggregation pheromone at a consistent and long -lasting rate which attracts and traps the pest beetles at the bottom of a bucket trap (ISCA, 2014). Unlike insect sex pheromones which attract only males of a species, this pheromone attracts both sexes of the species and thus is useful in reducing the damage quickly.

Trial site and trap placement

The trial was set in a 5 hectare resort property lined by palm and coconut trees, set in suburban Manila. The trees here were not only used for their produce, but also planted for aesthetic reasons to improve the look of the resort – thus the interest in controlling the beetle which makes the trees look unattractive. The 3 hectares of the resort with the highest density of palm and coconut trees was selected for this mass trapping test.

The efficacy of SPLAT lures in mass trapping the cocnut beetle, Oryctes rhinocerous_p86_page1_image2The trial was conducted from March to June for a period of 16 weeks. The ISCA bucket traps were tied to 12-foot bamboo poles and hoisted in the open area between the trees. One trap per hectare was used. A 2-3 gm dollop containing the lure was applied in each bucket trap before the buckets were hoisted. A single application of the lure was used for the entire period of the trial. Traps were monitored weekly for the number of captured beetles. The beetles were counted, documented as proof for product efficacy, and the data was used to provide visual proof to the clients.


The ISCA SPLAT-RB lures attracted Oryctes rhinoceros in high numbers (Table 1). A total of 27 beetles of both sexes were trapped in the 16 week period. Highest trapping was observed in the middle and final weeks. This trial proved the high efficacy of ISCA lures in trapping the pest beetles and demonstrated a potential use of semiochemical technology in areas of urban pest management, where concern about pesticide application is often high. The method also provided an opportunity for controlling the pest which is difficult to locate, does not congregate and its development stages take place hidden in soil far from area of infestation.

Table 1_001

Recent understanding of the adverse effects of large-scale usage of pesticides in urban environments has brought in a number of new approaches in managing pests. Baiting is the most prominent among them. Pheromones used as mass capturing devices could be the next line of products, which have so far seen limited use in crops such as mango, sweet corn, rice and coconut and oil palm in the Philippines. Due to its amorphous and flowable quality, SPLAT formulation offers a more flexible method of applying pheromone, with attract and kill formulations a possibility. In addition, it accommodates a variety of application methods such as manual, mechanical and automated, thus making it more easily acceptable to users.

For more information visit: ISCA (2014)

Photo credits:  D Loring
Author: Partho Dhang, PhD – Independent Consultant,2410, Belarmino Street, Bangkal, Makati City 1233

Published in International Pest Control – March/April 2014 issue.

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Category: Horticulture-Amenity

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