Invasive Bug Killing Palms Found in Valley - Palm Springs News, Weather, Traffic, Breaking News

Invasive Bug Killing Palms Found in Valley

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A new invasive species of bug is starting to appear in Southern California, and even here in the Coachella Valley.

It is feeding on something that is iconic to our area, the palm tree.

Palm trees and the date industry are huge here in the Coachella Valley, and an invasive species of weevil targets only palm trees.

We spoke with an expert who is tracking the bug as they've left a path of destruction from Tijuana to San Diego.

The green fronds waving in the sunshine, long trunks reaching to the sky; palm trees are classic Southern California.

But an invasive bug could have a profound impact.

"Devastating and has the ability to change California's iconic landscape."
Mark Hoddle, director of the Center of Invasive Species at UC Riverside, has been tracking the South American Palm Weevil.

He's seen hundreds of dead palms in Mexico, to clusters of dying trees in San Diego, and they're getting close to home now.
"The California Department of Food and Agriculture has trapped adult weevils that cause this type of damage in Coachella."

For us, the cost could not only be their priceless beauty, but the agricultural industry.
"Coachella Valley has a very important date industry that's worth about 30 million dollars a year, we know these weevils feed on date palms. The ornamental palm industry, the production and sale of live palms is worth about 70 million dollars," said Hoddle.

It's tough to treat the infestation once it's taken hold.
"Once the tree is badly infected, it should be cut down and destroyed so it's not incubating more weevils which can fly away." 

The weevils might be able to fly five to ten miles in just one day.
In a couple weeks university officials will be meeting with federal and state agriculture departments to address this potentially devastating infestation.

"A person can help us by keeping an eye out for these palms that look like they're dying or sick, taking photographs of them, and then emailing them to me," said Hoddle.

You can contact Hoddle at UCR HERE.

Though some weevils have been trapped in the valley, Hoddle says no trees they know of have been killed yet.

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