Charancon Rouge

The red palm weevil, a pest native to Asia

The red palm weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) is a beetle that is a particular menace to palm trees. Native to South and South-East Asia, it became established in the south of France in the early 2000s.

Where is the red palm weevil found in France?

Introduced into France in 2006, the red palm weevil was first detected in Corsica and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. It has been present in the Occitanie region since 2007 and is occasionally reported in most other French regions as palm trees are transported around the country. It has also been reported in certain overseas territories (Guadeloupe and French Polynesia).

Why is it a problem?

The larva of the red palm weevil develops inside the trunk (stipe) of palm trees, causing the palms to fall and then the trees to die after around two to five years. In mainland France and Corsica, the most threatened species are the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis), windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) and those of the genus Washingtonia.

What monitoring and control strategy has been put in place?

The red palm weevil is often detected very late in a palm tree, which is a major problem in the control of this pest. As it poses a global threat, an international action plan has been set up by the FAO to prevent its spread.

In France, the red palm weevil has been classified as a Category 1 health hazard and has been the subject of a mandatory control strategy since 2010. This is based on three key elements:

  • Monitoring and early detection of the presence of the pest;
  • Destruction of the contaminated plant or its infested parts;
  • Preventive treatments, such as the application of insecticides, biocontrol and mass trapping, used around infested palm trees to prevent the insect from spreading.

What is ANSES doing about the red palm weevil?

ANSES has worked on control of the red palm weevil on several occasions. Its Plant Health Laboratory has assessed solutions for treating palm trees and has, in particular, carried out an expert appraisal with a view to optimising strategies to control this pest. This laboratory’s Entomology and Invasive Plants Unit is responsible for official identification of this pest, both at the larval and adult stages. It has carried out missions in contaminated countries (Egypt and Israel) to acquire further knowledge of the red palm weevil.