SCI-TECH & AGRI

Lure trap for controlling rhinoceros beetles in coconut

PROVEN METHOD: About eleven traps at the rate of one trap per acre should be placed.

PROVEN METHOD: About eleven traps at the rate of one trap per acre should be placed.   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: Coconut Development Board



M.J. PRABU

A single insect damages one coconut palm in its life cycle

CONTINUOUS AND indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides has created pests, which are resistant to chemicals used to eliminate them. In addition, these chemicals also destroy beneficial crop growth promoting organisms in the soil. Use of pesticides alone is not a sustainable solution to the pest problem affecting crops, according to Mr. T. Thomas Mathew, Chief Coconut Development Officer, Coconut Development Board (CDB), Kochi, Kerala. "Restrictions on their indiscriminate usage have to be imposed by adopting and popularising Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies," he said.

Effective control

IPM is considered to be economical and effective for the control of several pests attacking crops, especially coconut trees. It attempts to ensure biological balance in the nature and minimise expenditure on pesticides and their application, according to him.In IPM strategy, pheromones play a vital role in controlling the pest population, elaborates Mr. Mathew.Pheromones are chemicals secreted by certain insects. These chemicals act like signals to attract its mate.

Exercising caution

"But care has to be exercised while using the pheromone traps as it can cause disastrous effect if used in isolation because it attracts the insects from surrounding areas and leads to damage of crops," he said.Several trials conducted by the Coconut Development Board, Kochi, have indicated that pheromone traps are ideal for the control of rhinoceros beetle, a serious pest in coconut plantations. The beetles attack the coconut trees and damage the growing parts of the palms. One beetle damages one coconut palm in its life cycle.The insect is named rhinoceros beetle because the male bears a horn on the middle of its head. In India, the beetle is widely distributed in coconut plantations.The life cycle of the beetle lasts for about six months. Adult beetles have a life span extending to 200 days or more under favourable conditions. The insect attacks the crown of the coconut tree and damages the spindle and unopened leaves. RB-lure trap also known as bucket trap is a proven method to trap and kill the beetles, according to Mr. Mathew. It is a specially designed bucket trap, which is supplied along with a lure. The lure is placed inside a lure holder attached to the lid of the bucket. The bucket has five rectangular windows cut about 3cms below its rim.

Pest attraction

Jute cloth or thread is stuck to the exterior side of the bucket to provide grip to the attracted beetles, which climb on them and enter into the trap. About one fourth of the bucket is filled with water. Beetles attracted by the RB-lure will enter the bucket through the entry holes, fall into the water and drown. The trap is tied on the coconut trees 3-4 feet from the ground. About eleven traps at the rate of one trap per acre can be placed. The traps must be serviced at least once a week for removing the dead beetles and to replace water to compensate for loss due to evaporation."The beetles generally breed in cattle dung pits and other decaying wastes. "The control can be made more effective if the trapping of the beetle is done simultaneously with the treatment of breeding places with pesticides to kill the larvae and eggs," Mr. Mathew said.For more information on pheromone trap, readers can contact Mr. T. Thomas Mathew, Chief Coconut Development Officer, Coconut Development Board, Kochi: 682011, Kerala, Phone: 0484-2375999, email: tmmannil@rediffmail.com





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