Palms and maritime pines in Italy, particularly in Tuscany and Lazio, are under attack from insects. Palms are suffering from a beetle-like insect called rhynchophorus ferrugineus, or red palm weevil, and a flying insect called matsucoccus feytaudi is killing the maritime pines.

The red palm beetle attacks coconut palms, date palms and oil palms and originated in Asia. It first appeared in Egypt in 1995, then Spain, followed by France in 2006 and now Italy. The mature beetle digs metre-long holes in the trees it attacks but usually this damage is only visible in the late stages of infestation when it is often too late to treat the palms. Unless the dead trees are then removed quickly the bugs continue to spread.

It is thought that the rapid increase of the disease across the Mediterranean is due to the importation from one country to another of date palms, which are ubiquitous in private and public gardens along most of the Mediterranean coastal areas.

Much less is known about the behaviour of matsucoccus feytaudi hence the appeal recently on Myspace by the head of Tuscany

General Info