The plague of red palm weevils which has been affecting trees on the island has reached alarming numbers, and technicians from the Agricultural Department of the Consell have admitted defeat in the task of eradicating them completely, and are now adopting measures to control them. The first evidence was noted in 2007 when the only remedy was to uproot the trees, treat them, wrap them in plastic and bury them in a dump. The larvae excavate large galleries of up to a metre in length. However, modern methods of tree surgery do not necessarily mean the death of the tree, as long as the first infestations are caught in time. The infected part is cut away, the tree is treated with pesticide and soon new shoots begin to appear. The infected parts are then destroyed and the tree receives periodical checks and is regularly sprayed to avoid any recurrence.
More checks are now made on new palm trees arriving on the island from the mainland, as are stocks held in garden centres. The first outbreak was noted three years ago, when seven trees had to be destroyed from the gardens at the Airport. The following year a further 13 were detected in the same area and eliminated. However, by 2009 sixty-six infected trees were found, either in garden centres or on private properties.
The Consell has organized courses, the first of which is on 28th September, and is aimed at educating workers in the sector on the most efficient ways of detecting the pests. After two hours of training, the candidates are then given practical demonstrations for a further four hours. It is recommended that the Canary Palms should not be pruned at the moment, but left until January or February, when there is less likelihood of the spread of infection.