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RHINOCEROS BEETLE

 

Oryctes rhinoceros (L.) -- Scarabaeidae

 

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This scarab was a major pest of coconuts throughout southern Asia for many years and became a potentially devastating pest of young oil palms (Wood 1969a).  Palms in replantings were especially at risk because the decaying logs of a former stand of oil palms, rubber or coconuts provide breeding grounds for the larvae, which develop in rotting organic materials.  The beetles attack the heart of the palm, boring at the base of unopened leaves, or spears, so that newly emerging leaves are broken off, truncated or distorted.  Pathogenic organisms may enter the lesions, leading to long periods of distorted leaf production or death of young palms. 

 

Insecticidal control is not very effective, and can lead de outbreaks of leaf-eating caterpillars.  Control was attempted by breaking up the breeding grounds and removing developing stages (Wood 1968).  This procedure proved very expensive but not highly effective.  Wood (1969a) reported that a series of experiments was commenced in 1962 to investigate the possibility of rendering the rotting tissues of a former stand unusable by the beetle, of speeding up the rotting away of logs or of destroying them completely at replanting.  Planters had for long held that a heavy cover of ground vegetation was associated with reduced attack by the beetles, and this agreed with observations in coconuts in the South Pacific (Owen 1959, Wood 1969b)

 

Ground cover in young oil palm plantings may be either a natural cover, comprising self perpetuating species of grasses, ferns and creepers, or a planted leguminous cover.  The trials confirmed that under heavy cover there was substantially less breeding of beetles (Wood 1969a).  Cover works against the adult's searching for a feeding site since very intensive inspections of rotting logs ruled out the possibility that the effect was due to a greater number of beetles developing on the bare ground.  The way in which the cover works is not certain, but it seems possible that it impedes the flight or movement on the ground of the adult beetle. 

 

The most extensive program for biological control of the rhinoceros beetle was in Fiji where the pest was first found in 1953 and extended from 1954 to the 1960's.  Although numerous natural enemies were imported, only Scolia ruficornis F. became established (Clausen 1978).  The shipments from the Palau Islands consisted of 232 cocoons, the adults from which were utilized for propagation.  The 428 cocoons thus obtained were placed in the field (Simmonds 1961).  Other parasitoids and predators were introduced in other areas.

 

Considering the amount of effort that was devoted to this project, the results were disappointing.  Scolia ruficornis was most widely distributed and established, but only in a few areas has it been reported to have any appreciable influence on the pest populations.  Parasitization of up to 30% was attained in Samoa and it is believed that many groups are destroyed through stinging by the parasitoid, but not followed by oviposition.  However, population levels vary widely over the infested area (Hoyt & Catley 1967).  Wilson (1960) reported that the degree of control attained in New Britain has been sufficient to permit replanting of the plantations, but distribution and effectiveness are not general in the area.  Considerable attention was devoted to various pathogens (Surany 1960, Huger 1966, Zelazny 1972, 1973), which has resulted in a virus disease causing control when management of orchards is conducive to its perpetuation.  One in particular, the "Malaya disease",Rhabdionvirus oryctes, affects both larvae, which soon die, and adults, and transmission is by ingestion or by contact.  Infected adults stop feeding and egg laying, but can still spread the virus.  Infection and establishment is easy (Bedford 1971), but the beetle seems to have reached many Pacific Islands without the virus, and when introduced in Samoa the disease led to marked reduction in damage (Marschall 1970>.  Introductions to other islands have reduced attack from very high levels (Young 1974, Bedford 1971) and incidence now resembles the more tolerable situation in areas where the virus has been long established (Bennett et al. 1976).

 

For additional information on biological control effort and host and natural enemy biologies, please see the following (Anonymous 1940, Simmonds 1941, 1949, 1953, 1961; Gardner 1953, Gressitt 1953, O'Connor 1953, 1960; Pemberton 1954, Dun 1955, Cumber 1957, Vanderplank 1958, Orian 1959, Wilson 1960, Hurpin 1966).

 

 

REFERENCES:          [ Additional references may be found at:   MELVYL Library ]

 

Anonymous.  1940.  Summary of a report on a recent mission of Mr. H. W. Simmonds to Java, Malaya, Mauritius and Madagascar.  Fiji. Isl. Dept. Agric., Agric. J. 11:  21.

 

Bedford, G. O.  1971.  Virus release programme in Fiji.  Report of the Project Manager for the Period June 1970 - May 1971, p. 234-239.  South Pacific Comm., Noumea, New Caledonia.

 

Bennett, F. D., D. Rosen, P. Cochereau & B. J. Wood.  1976.  Pests of tropical fruits and nuts.  In:  C. B. Huffaker & P. S. Messenger (eds.), Theory and Practice of Biological Control.  Academic Press, New York.  788 p.

 

Clausen, C. P.  Scarabaeidae.  In:  C. P. Clausen (ed.), Introduced Parasites and Predators of Arthropod Pests and Weeds.  U. S. Dept. Agric, Agric. Handbk. No 480.  545 p.

 

Cumber, R. A.  1957.  Ecological studies of the rhinoceros beetle Oryctes rhinoceros (L.) in Western Samoa.  So. Pacific Comm., Tech. Paper 107.  32 p.

 

Dun, G. S.  1955.  Economic entomology in Papua and New Guinea 1948-1954.  Papua New Guinea Agric. J. 9:  109-19.

 

Gardner, T. R.  1953.  The rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros L.) situation in the Palau Islands and the introduction of two scoliid parasites to combat this pest.  &th Pacific Sci. Cong. Proc. (1953) 4:  229-32.

 

Gressitt, J. L.  1953.  The coconut rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros) with particular reference to the Palau Islands.  Bernice P. Bishop Mus. Bull. 212.  157 p.

 

Hoyt, C. P.  1963.  Investigations of rhinoceros beetles in West Africa.  Pacific Sci. 17:  444-51.

 

Hoyt, C. P. & A. Catley.  1967.  Current research on the biological control of Oryctes (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Dynastinae).  Mushi 39:  3-8.

 

Huger, A. M.  1966.  A virus disease of the Indian rhinoceros beetle Oryctes rhinoceros (L.) caused by a new type of insect virus, Rhabdionvirus oryctes gen. n., sp. n.  J. Invertebr. Path. 8:  38-51.

 

Hurpin, B.  1966.  Resultats et perspectives de la lutte biologique contre les Oryctes.  Oleagineux. 21:  77-82.

 

Marschall, K. J.  1970.  Introduction of a new virus disease of the coconut rhinoceros beetle in Western Samoa.  Nature (London) 225:  288-89.

 

O'Connor, B. A.  1953.  The rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros L.) in Fiji.  Fiji Dept. Agric., Agric. J. 24:  35-46.

 

O'Connor, B. A.  1960.  A decade of biological control work in Fiji.  Fiji Dept. Agric., Agric. J. 30:  44-54.

 

Orian, A. J. E.  1959.  Report on a visit to Diego Garcia.  Rev. Agric. Sucr. Maurice 38:  127-43.

 

Owen, R. P.  1959.  Proposals for vegetative barrier experiments.  South Pacific Comm. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Koror, Caroline Islands. p. 1-3.

 

Pemberton, C. E.  1954.  Invertebrate consultants committee for the Pacific, report for 1949-1954.  Natl. Acad. Sci.-Natl. Res. Council Pacific Sci. Board.  56 p.

 

Simmonds, H. W.  1941.  Biological control of the rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros L.), 1939.  Fiji Dept. Agric. Bull. 21.  30 p.

 

Simmonds, H. W.  1949.  On the introduction of Scolia ruficornis F., into Western Samoa for control of Oryctes rhinoceros L.  Bull. Ent. Res. 40:  445-46.

 

Simmonds, H. W.  1953.  The rhinoceros beetle, Oryctes rhinoceros.  Certain factors which may tend to inhibit its increase or check its spread in Fiji.  Fiji Dept. Agric., Agric. J. 24:  89-92.

 

Simmonds, H. W.  1961.  A short history of Scolia ruficornis, parasite of Oryctes spp.  Fiji Dept. Agric., Agric. J. 31:  36-8.

 

Surany, P.  1960.  Diseases and biological control in rhinoceros beetles.  South Pacific Comm., Noumea, Tech. Paper No. 128.  62 p.

 

Vanderplank, F. L.  1958.  The assassin bug, Platymerus rhadamanthus Cerst. (Hemiptera, Reduviidae), a useful predator of the rhinoceros beetle Oryctes boas (F.) and Oryctes monoceros (Oliv.) (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae).  J. Ent. South Africa 21:  309-14.

 

Wilson, F.  1960.  A review of the biological control of insects and weeds in Australia and Australian New Guinea.  Commonwealth Inst. Biol. Control, Tech. Commun. 1.  102 p.

 

Wood, B. J.  1969a.  Development of integrated control programs for pests of tropical perennial crops in Malaysia.  In:  C. B. Huffaker (ed.), Biological Control.  Plenum / Rosetta Press, New York.  511 p.

 

Wood, B. J.  1969b.  Studies on the effect of ground vegetation on infestations of Oryctes rhinoceros (L.) (Col., Dynastidae) in young oil palm replantings in Malaysia.  Bull. Ent. Res. 59:  85-96.

 

Young, E. C.  1974.  The epizootiology of two pathogens of the coconut palm rhinoceros beetle.  J. Invert. Path. 24:  82-92.

 

Zelazny, B.  1971.  Report of the project manager for the period June 1970 - May 1971, p. 42-131.  South Pacific Comm., Noumea, New Caledonia.

 

Zelazny, B.  1972.  Studies on Rhabdionvirus oryctes.  I.  Effect on larvae of Oryctes rhinoceros and inactivation of the virus.  J. Invert. Path. 10:  235-41.

 

Zelazny, B.  1973.  Studies on Rhabdionvirus oryctes.  II.  Effect on adults of Oryctes rhinoceros.  J. Invert. Path. 22:  122-26.