Monday, February 16, 2009

The battle for control


The fight to control the 'picudo rojo' which threatens palm trees along the Mediterranean coast is complicated.

The beetle, which is 2 to 5cms long, eats into the crowns of the palm making tunnels into the trunk up to a metre in length. The first signs of an attack are a yellowing of the leaves. By this stage the palm is dying and cannot be saved.

Some councils have removed the affected trees to try and stop the insects from spreading. This drastic strategy has not worked.

Others have used existing insecticides in an effort to control the spread but many existing products don't work either.

There are new insecticides which may control the problem but they need to be tried and tested before they can be used in public places. That can take several months - a delay that can cost dearly in terms of the numbers of trees affected.

The process of eradication of the problem could take years though because of the number of trees and the problem of re-infestation.

To do nothing is not an option because the spread of the 'picudo rojo' threatens to wipe out the countries heritage. Imagine Elche without its palm trees - unthinkable.

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