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The South American palm weevil (SAPW), known to scientists as Rhynchophorus palmarum, is an invasive beetle that has been detected infesting palm trees in San Diego County. The beetle inflicts serious physical damage to the fronds, crown, and hearts of palm trees, as well as weakening palms’ immune system to leave them susceptible to other fungal and wilt diseases. An untreated palm infested by palm weevils will ultimately die, while serving as a nesting site to spread the beetle to other palms in the area.

Palm species most at risk of damage by the SAPW include the Canary Islands date palm and edible date palms, both of which are central crops in the $140 million date and ornamental palm industry in southern California. Fast detection and removal of SAPW infestations is key, because even moderately infested palms act as nurseries for weevil larvae and help spread damage.