He’s your go-to guy when you find a suspicious bug or insect in your yard or in incoming cargo. Local entomologist Dr. Aubrey Moore gives us the dirt on the latest findings involving the coconut rhinoceros beetle.
Gardeners and landscapers, you could be getting more than you paid for in your bags of store bought soil. “We had lots of reports of people finding grubs in their bags of soil at home, but it’s only recently that we’ve actually been able to find out that some of our hardware stores are selling bags of soil that are already pre-populated with grubs,” Dr. Moore explained. A visit to a local hardware store, he shared, proved that many unopened bags of soil were infested with grubs – also known as baby coconut rhinoceros beetle. Grubs feed on soil.
If allowed to mature to adult beetles, their appetites for Guam’s beloved coconut trees are deadly. “It’s quite possible that during the early days after the rhino beetle arrived, that it was accidentally spread in this fashion. We call this a pathway. And now we know that that pathway exists, for sure. We suspected that it did exist before but now we have proof,” said Moore.
Dr. Moore says the affected store bought bags were kept outside, leaving them vulnerable to the rhino beetle who bore holes through the plastic. “All of our soil is manufactured in the states and its imported here and you know a lot of the hardware stores store their stuff outside, so if it’s outside for long enough, the rhino beetles will find it and lay some eggs in it, those eggs will hatch and by the time you get it home, you’ll have nice big grubs in it,” he said.
So what can you do? If you garden at home, he recommends you leave the bags of soil indoors, or cover them with tekken netting – the same material you can use to protect your home’s coconut trees and green wastes. “So the recommendation these days is, you cover your bags of soil or your compost pile with a tekken netting. I’m sure most people on Guam have heard of this discovery – that if you have the right kind of fish netting called tekken if it’s just the right size, the beetles can’t go through it. They try to go through it and they get caught just like a fish gets caught in a gillnet,” he said.
Dr. Moore adds that Guam law relative to soil imports hasn’t been enforced. Local law states soil can only be brought in limited quantities for experimental or other scientific purposes.
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