Rhynchophorus ferrugineus

Rhynchophorus ferrugineus
Rhynchophorus ferrugineus MHNT.jpg
Scientific classification
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R. ferrugineus
Binomial name
Rhynchophorus ferrugineus
(Olivier, 1790) [1]
Synonyms
  • Curculio ferrugineus Olivier, 1790
  • Cordyle sexmaculatus Thunberg, 1797
  • Calandra ferruginea Fabricius, 1801
  • Rhynchophorus pascha v. papuanus Kirsch, 1877
  • Rhynchophorus indostanus Chevrolat, 1882
  • Rhynchophorus signaticollis Chevrolat, 1882
  • Rhynchophorus pascha v. cinctus Faust, 1893
  • Rhynchophorus ferrugineus v. seminiger Faust, 1895
  • Rhynchophorus signaticollis v. dimidiatus Faust, 1895

The palm weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus is one of two species of snout beetle known as the red palm weevil, Asian palm weevil or sago palm weevil. The adult beetles are relatively large, ranging between two and four centimeters long, and are usually a rusty red colour—but many colour variants exist and have often been classified as different species (e.g., Rhynchophorus vulneratus). Weevil larvae can excavate holes in the trunk of a palm trees up to a metre long, thereby weakening and eventually killing the host plant. As a result, the weevil is considered a major pest in palm plantations, including the coconut palm, date palm and oil palm.[2]

Originally from tropical Asia, the red palm weevil has spread to Africa and Europe, reaching the Mediterranean in the 1980s. It was first recorded in Spain in 1994,[3] and in France in 2006. Additional infestations have been located in Malta, Italy (Tuscany, Sicily, Campania, Sardinia, Lazio, Marche, Puglia and Liguria), Croatia and Montenegro. It is also well established throughout most of Portugal, especially in the South.[4] It also has established in Morocco, Tunisia, and other North African countries.[5] The weevil was first reported in the Americas on Curaçao in January 2009[6] and sighted the same year in Aruba.[7] It was reported in the United States at Laguna Beach, CA late in 2010[8][9] but this was a misidentification of the closely related species, Rhynchophorus vulneratus, and it did not become established.[10]

Taxonomy

Primarily due to the existence of numerous color forms across their ranges, the taxonomy and classification of red palm weevils has undergone a number of changes in understanding and circumscription. As such, the information in the literature should be viewed as a compilation of data which may apply to both species, depending primarily upon the biogeography; accordingly, the vast majority of publications presumably do refer to R. ferrugineus rather than vulneratus, as the former is by far the most widely invasive. The most recent genus-level revision in 1966[11] recognized two species of red palm weevil, ferrugineus and vulneratus, and for decades these were interpreted as separate taxa. A genetic study in 2004[12] concluded that vulneratus was not distinct from ferrugineus, and treated them as synonyms, a view that was accepted until 2013, when yet another genetic study[13] came to the opposite conclusion, based on more comprehensive geographic sampling. Accordingly, the "red palm weevil" species that appeared in the US was vulneratus rather than ferrugineus, though the latter is the invading species in all of the other global introductions.[13]

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