CRETAN PALM UNDER THREAT
Red palm weevil study
Flowers of Crete has been working with the University of Rome 'La Sapienza' supplying samples of the red palm weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus from across Crete to aid new studies on molecular analysis. Dr Alessio de Biase is carrying out the research and several members of our organisation were kind enough to collect and record insects from their area to send to Dr de Biase. More on this here (PDF of email to Julia Jones, February 2013).
Many thanks to everyone who helped with this project. Most women get gifts of flowers or chocolates - for the last few months wherever I have gone I have been given little plastic vials containing weevils preserved in industrial acetone! Nevertheless, I hope that we have been able to help this valuable study to learn more about this destructive creature.
The photo, above, shows damage to young Canary palms near Hania.
Right: red palm weevil.
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More on the red palm weevil
The destructive Red Palm Weevil is a threat to the forests of the endemic Cretan Palm Phoenix
theophrasti at Vai and Préveli and every effort needs to be taken to try to stop its progress.
It has been found in
in the square in Elounda, in Aghios Nikolaos and along the coast between Heraklion and Milatos, where many infected trees have already died. The authorities were informed at that time.
In the meantime, we are posting these photographs of the weevil. If you find this insect or its larva, please destroy it and keep the remains. Please photograph it and send details to us at Flowers of Crete, so that we can pass the information on to the authorities. Severely affected trees have to be destroyed, but other trees in the area can be sprayed and pheromone traps can be set to capture flying weevils.
Rosemary and I have been in touch with Kallia Pediatitis at MAICH - the Mediterranean Agricultural Institute - who has made a comprehensive study of the Cretan Palm and we are taking advice from her on the ways that Flowers of Crete can help with passing on information. The town council of Elounda is also aware of the situation and will be taking steps to deal with it.
If you live on Crete please be aware that this danger has come from infested, imported palms. People who buy these will not only lose their investment because the palm will most certainly die, but they will pass the threat onto other established trees within a large area. It is essential that developers in the far east of the island do not attempt to buy in these imported palms.
Please pass this information on to anyone on Crete who may be interested in this problem. The more people who understand the dangers, the better the chances of making a difference will be. It will take a huge effort on the part of all of us to try to combat this threat and the odds are stacked against us.
Larger pictures here; red palm weevil; larva; dead palm; dead phoenix palm.
Some small Phoenix theophrastii palms sent from The Winter Gardens in Sunderland, grown from seed collected some years ago at Vai, have been planted at the Bayview Development on the south coast at Magriakalos. Other palms have been planted in private gardens in the east of the island and these are being carefully monitored for evidence of the red palm weevil.