COCONUT MOTH MAY HAVE MET ITS MATCH ON RAROTONGA

admin's picture

By Tara Carr

November 27 2001 - The coconut flat moth, which has wreaked havoc on Rarotonga’s coconut palms, could soon be under control.

That’s according to Ministry of Agriculture secretary Nga Mataio, who says an increasing number of insects are feeding on the moth’s eggs, larvae and adult forms.

He says the palms’ recovery process is well and truly under way.

"The moth is now fighting a losing battle. Whereas before only one species of wasp was feeding on it, it is now evident that there are other species of wasp as well as ants and spiders making a good meal of the moth," says Mataio.

The coconut flat moth was first noticed in Muri and Ngatangiia in October last year.

Within a few months it had spread right around Rarotonga, turning the green fronds of the island’s most important tree to brown.

Mataio says the development of the pest in this country is well in line with the experience of other countries where the moth is already established.

"Right now, French Polynesia is the only island state in the Pacific where the moth is not established. Over a period of time, the moth’s population gradually falls and balances out with the population of its enemies.

"As a result of this balancing effect, the extent of the damage becomes less visible," says Mataio.

Although the moth is causing less damage, he says it will never be wiped out completely.

"In fact it is going to be here for good."

He also warns that it won’t be long before the moth gets to the outer islands.

When it does, Mataio says, residents should not panic because eventually nature will bring the problem under control.

Dr. Maja Poeschko says during the first week of December she will visit Mangaia to hold a public awareness meeting.

Her visit will be funded by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

Dr. Poeschko says she hopes eventually to travel to all the outer islands to raise awareness of the coconut flat moth.

Meanwhile, more than a month after signs of the moth were reported on Aitutaki, Rarotonga’s Totokoitu Research Center is still waiting for samples from the island.

Dr. Maja Poeschko says Aitutaki agriculture officer Tiraa Arere reported back in October that he may have spotted some damage caused by the moth.

For additional reports from the Cook Islands News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Cook Islands News Online.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment