13 Sep 2019

Concerns there may be red palm weevil in Cooks' Penrhyn

3:26 pm on 13 September 2019

Penrhyn Islanders in the Cook Islands fear they may have an infestation of the red palm weevil.

Penrhyn, Cook Islands

Penrhyn, Cook Islands Photo: RNZI / Mary Baines

The islanders have been raising concerns recently about damage to the coconut trees on the island and had feared that the rhinoceros beetle, which has become a major issue in both Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, had reached Penrhyn.

A government assessment has determined this is not the case, but Wilkie Rasmussen, who once represented Penrhyn in parliament, and these days is a spokesperson for the Environment Society, said now their concerns have turned to a weevil.

"They have found what they describe as a red palm weevil - Rhynchophorus Ferrugineus, that's the biological name of it or the scientific name of what they have discovered and apparently it is quite devastating as well to the coconut trees."

Wilkie Rasmussen hopes the government will fly scientists up the atoll to investigate the concerns.