Massive tree-chopping begins to thwart rhino beetle — Crews chopping up to 200 coconut trees at Pearl Harbor- Hickam base

(Via KITV)

It’s a big job–but crews are tackling it– one tree at a time.
Agriculture officials have identified the first 100 trees that have to go.
They’re infested with the mighty rhino beetle— a dreaded pest known to do serious damage.

“Mamala Bay Golf Course is what some people call “ground zero,”

It is on the Hickam side of joint base Pearl Harbor Hickam, where the beetle was first discovered and where the nesting areas were found, so the work is being concentrated in this area,” said U.S. Navy spokesman Tom Clements.

The process is painstaking.
Trunks are cut down to a foot and a half and all the fronds with the tell tail v shape
have to be disposed of properly or they can spread the pest around.
The finds have varied from tree-to-tree.
Some times there’s a single beetle, sometimes more than 30.

“By being aggressive here where we know the infestation is, we can prevent it from getting it to other areas. if we are able to prevent the spread, than we can definitely work toward eradication which is what our goal is, eradication,” sad Rob Curtiss.

Officials are also eagerly awaiting the shipment of a half a dozen incinerators. which will help their efforts to beat the beetle population down. It turns out beetles don’t like heat.
The first incinerator is set to arrive tomorrow.

“This project has been hampered by not having real tools to combat the rhino beetle . This is the first tool that will truly get rid of the infested material, If it’s burned its gone,” said Curtiss.

After a team of about 40 people will be trained to use the equipment the eradication efforts will be stepped up a notch. But getting rid of the beetles completely could take years,

“It’s not easy it can be compared to the long horn beetle on the east coast where they have been working on it for 20 years. but they are getting eradication” said Curtiss.

Call it serendipity, but in the process of removing these trees officials discovered a couple of natural predators. Egrets are one and mongoose are another.   
The mongoose, turns out have attacked the beetles trapped in the netting draped in the mulch piles.
The egrets are partial to the larvae– that crews have discovered nesting in the trees.
The trick is getting those predators to the prey.

The military does have a tree replacement plan in the works. It hopes to tap the help of Eagle Scout troops to help replant trees, possibly native species.

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