The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources (MAFWR) on Sunday launched a month-long programme to combat the coconut leaf beetle known as Brontispa longissima which has infested trees in Dhofar region.
‘The General Directorate of Agricultural, Fisheries and Water Resources in Dhofar Governorate launched a campaign to combat leaf beetle Brontispa longissima on May 23, after the emergence of a number of hotspots. The campaign will continue for a month,’ the ministry said.
The coconut leaf beetle is one of the most damaging pests of coconut and other palms. According to researches, the larvae and adults of the beetle feed on the soft tissues of the youngest leaf in the palm. Affected leaves dry up, resulting in stunting of the palm and reduced nut production. Prolonged attacks on young palms can lead to their death.
The beetle attacks palms of all ages, but young palms are more susceptible than older ones, because the leaves of old palms are firmer and less suitable for the beetle to breed.
Larvae of the beetle chew on large areas of the surface of leaflets still in the throat of the palm (the spear leaf), which causes the death of the underlying tissues.