An ongoing project continues to formulate sustainable pest management strategies against the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB) to safeguard farms with local and hybrid coconut varieties.
CRB, locally known as ‘Uang,’ is a widespread insect pest that burrows into the crown of coconut trees, consuming the sap and damaging the leaves. This destructive behavior significantly reduces nut yields, thus, directly affecting the livelihoods of numerous coconut farmers.
The project, "Surveillance and Detection of Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Genotypes and their Natural Enemies in Hybrid and Local Coconut Variety Plantations in the Philippines,” was recently reviewed by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD).
Led by Ms. Johana C. Orense from the Philippine Coconut Authority-Davao Research Center (PCA-DRC), the said project is funded under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP)-Coconut Hybridization Program (CHP), research component. It addresses the need for establishing feasible integrated pest management (IPM) technologies for the sustainable management of CRB.
To determine the response of hybrids and their parentals to the different CRB genotypes and their biological control agents, Ms. Orense and her team successfully germinated 170 hybrid seedlings and 213 parentals during the initial year of project implementation. These seedlings will be screened and evaluated for their tolerance to CRB attacks under controlled screenhouse conditions.
The team also collected baseline data on CRB genotypes and their natural enemies from 1 site in Davao Oriental, 5 sites in Bicol, 2 sites in Central Visayas, and 6 sites in CARAGA. Sampling in 28 selected sites distributed across the Philippines is still underway. This initiative aims to gather comprehensive information useful in creating a nationwide incidence map to aid in effective pest management.
The team initially observed and profiled natural genetic differences in the first 113 CRB samples from Bohol, Albay, and Sorsogon. The result will aid in identifying traits affecting CRB’s resistance to biocontrol agents and its adaptability to different environments.
During the project review, Science and Technology (S&T) Consultant Divina M. Amalin shared her insights to improve the project implementation and proposed the integration of aggregation pheromones in identifying specific CRB types and developing semi-chemical detection methods for these species.
Aggregation pheromones are chemicals that can attract insects of the same species into groups in an area. Through these, pest behavior can be manipulated for mass trapping and control of insect pests.
DOST-PCAARRD’s Deputy Executive Director for Research and Development Juanito T. Batalon led the review along with Crops Research Division (CRD) Director Leilani D. Pelegrina and key CRD personnel.