Palm Beach, Palm Bay, Palm City, palm trees. Palm trees are a symbol of tropical weather and of Florida. They are also a food for palmetto weevils. The largest of all weevils in North America, the palmetto weevil is not a danger to humans. It doesn’t poison you or sting you, but it could cause damage to your home and to you if you are inside when one of the trees comes crashing down.
This Florida native species of beetle is a destructive insect. Its eggs are laid on the leaves of dying or stressed palms. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae will feed off of the stem’s fibrous material until they mature. The wind there way up and down the inside of the trunk. They will eventually form a cocoon and emerge as the adult beetle, continuing to use the tree for its habitat.
Adult beetles can grow up to 1 ½ inches long. They are easy to spot with a very hard exoskeleton that ranges from solid black to red with varying patterns. The larvae are grubs; big, fat and edible. In fact, in some places around the world they are considered private property when found on your trees because they are so tasty and considered a food source.
Identifying a Palmetto Weevil Problem
The first indication would be the palm tree itself. If you have any diseased looking or damaged palm trees, it is a good idea to have them removed. If you don’t, you may wake up one night and find it in your bedroom. As the insect feasts on your tree it weakens it further and further from the inside out until it comes down. The leaves will also begin to turn brown as their source of nutrition is whittled away. The leaves will also lean far more than normal.
You can pull out one of the heart leaves and easily see tunneling from where the larvae have been feeding. The mature form of the beetle chooses to feed on the crown leaves which are harder to reach. When the tunneling becomes so extensive, the palm can no longer support its own weight and the crown of the tree falls over.
They also leave behind a horrid odor. You can sometimes see sap secreting from the trunk. If you suspect you have a palmetto weevil infestation, call your Brevard County, Florida pest control provider to protect your family and assets. Severe infestations have been known to spread to nearby homes, hiding behind the windows and walls.