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Rhino beetle workshop held at UOG

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - The coconut rhinoceros beetle was first spotted in 2007 in Tumon, but fast forward to today and the eradication program reports the invasive species can now be found in every village on island. A workshop on different principles of management was recently held at the University of Guam.

"A lot of people are complaining right now they think it's really blown up and we've lost the battle against the rhino beetle and the reality is we have lost a couple of battles, but we have not lost the war," said UOG's Roland Quitugua. The battle against the rhino beetle has only just begun, as Quitgua, UOG's Cooperative Extension Service agent, reports that although we've caught beetles in all the villages, breeding sites have not been located in each village.

Quitugua says it's been trial and error for the eradication program as Guam's ecosystem is much different from other islands who've suffered with the invasive species for decades. "We have taken those methodologies that they've developed - the traps, the trap pits, the lures, and the virus and the fungus and we've tried to incorporate all of these in our eradication program, but Guam's ecosystem once again is very different and poses very unique challenges."

So far, guam has permits to bring in a biological fungus to put in traps. "The rhino beetles are attracted to it they go it and when they go through the pile they end up getting the fungus on their body. The fungus will then penetrate and grow in their body and kill them," he said.

But what can you do as a homeowner? Quitugua says maintain your yard, inclusive of your green waste. "One of the reasons why the rhino beetle has spread throughout the island is because Guam does not have a green waste management plant. Traditionally people gather green waste when they clean their backyard or when someone cleans out a lot they just take it and push it in the back in the corner or over, and they allow that thing to break down and become compost."

But what's good for compost poses as a breeding ground for rhino beetles as Quitugua notes most homeowners aren't willing to travel and pay to dispose their green waste in the one approved green waste hardfill located in Yigo. "One of the options we can do for managing the green waste is burning. I'm not a fan of burning - I honestly believe that the organic matter is more valuable for soil and build our soil and help protect our water lens but if you have to and we do it to when need be, you can burn," he explained.

Quitugua says it's important to work together as a neighborhood to control the population. If you choose to burn your green waste, you must obtain a burning permit from the Guam Fire Department. Burning times are also limited come dry season. If you suspect your coconut trees have already been hit, he advises, "We take a look at the tree and we make a determination. Is the tree still going to grow can it have that chance to recover if it does we leave it be? If its mortally wounded, it's been hit so many times or the growing tip is dead, it's better we just get rid of it, so we just cut it down."

For more information, contact the UOG Agriculture and Natural Resources at 735-2080.

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