A recent ANSES report points out the current difficulty of eradicating the red palm weevil. This rusty red colored beetle is known for destroying palm trees from the inside out and is threatening to cause major damage along the Côte d’Azur.

This battle was lost before it had begun. After the damage caused by the agave (or sisal) weevil, especially at the Monegasque Wildlife Garden, it is its distant cousin’s turn to wreak havoc. The red palm weevil has begun to wage merciless war on the palm trees of the Côte d’Azur. Introduced in 2006 by shipments of palm trees from Egypt, this beetle produces larvae that destroy the tree from within.

A report by the National Agency for Food Safety, Environment, and Labor (ANSES), commissioned by the French Ministry of Agriculture, concludes that it will be impossible to eradicate the red palm weevil in seven departments along the Mediterranean coast where it is already rife.

Should Monaco engage even when failure is a certainty?

Experts recommend focusing on the protection of specimen with “heritage value.” They also propose to replant specific species of plants that are resistant to the parasite. In Nice, for example, the town hall has begun to replace the emblematic Phoenix canariensis, the most widespread but also the most affected species of palm tree. The health agency also suggests a range of measures like controlling the importation of palm seedlings and their transport from infested departments as well as quarantine measures for infested homes.

On the other hand, the ANSES report does not address methods for treating infested trees. The ecological question remains unresolved. In addition, an expert like Michel Ferry regrets that this report seems to confirm a failure. “The fight against this pest is not a technical problem but a problem of collective organization and political will as evidenced by the example of the Canaries, or that of the oases where it was eradicated,” said the specialist who works for the UN agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization.

*As originally reported on the French edition of the Monaco Tribune.