Agriculture officials have mounted a trap on a tree just outside the main Medical Education Building (MEB) lobby on Ilalo Street in a stepped-up battle against a pest that can kill coconut trees.
The black and white trap, with a sleek “rocket” design that makes you think of a small satellite, was hung from the tree’s branch on Wednesday by workers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Protection and Quarantine Inspection Service.
Why here, at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM)? Officials say there was a recent citing of the dreaded coconut rhinoceros beetle within two miles of the Kaka`ako campus.
The beetle, native to tropical areas of Asia, began showing up in Guam in 2007. The ravenous insects have not been kind to coconut trees there. Late last month, beetles were found on O`ahu during routine surveys conducted by USDA and the University of Hawai`i Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR).
Soon a UV light (a black-light) will be placed on the three-and-a-half foot long trap outside JABSOM to help attract the beetles, which fly at night. The trap also contains a chemical lure for the beetle. The chemical is not a health hazard to humans, officials said.
Authorities believe the Kaka`ako trap, and others they have installed–including one at Pearl Harbor, where the first beetle in the State was spotted–will help them determine the extent of the beetle infestation on O’ahu and what steps need to be taken to eradicate or minimize the beetles’ threat. As of mid-January, nine adult beetles had been trapped. Authorities plan to check the UH medical school tree’s trap every two weeks to see whether any beetles appear.
The Hawai`i Department of Agriculture has more information, including a “Pest Line” telephone number and a photo of the creature on its website at Hawai`i Department of Agriculture.