“What I’m really worried about is if this positive feedback cycle is real it’s not gonna end until all the food’s gone which means we’re gonna lose a lot of trees.” – Dr. Aubrey Moore.
Guam – There’s good news and bad news about the coconut rhino beetle. The good news is UOG entomologist Dr. Aubrey Moore has successfully used tiny radio tracking devices to track beetles to their nests. The bad news is, he found that they can nest in some very unexpected places. Now he’s expecting a population boom in the next few months.
“What I’m really worried about is if this positive feedback cycle is real it’s not gonna end until all the food’s gone which means we’re gonna lose a lot of trees,” said Dr. Moore. The UOG Entomologist says they followed one beetle in particular that lead them to an unexpected site.
“It wasn’t in the ground it was up in a tree not a coconut tree but a breadfruit tree,” said Dr. Moore.
The radio transmitters worked well and allowed them to find new types of breeding sites. They now know the beetles can breed inside of rotting tree branches that are high up on the trees. However this discovery presented a new problem.
“I got thinking there’s got to be thousands of sites like this throughout the jungles on Guam most of them are inaccessible they’re little tiny sites we can’t get in there. a lot of them are on military bases,” said Dr. Moore adding,”Right now we’re seeing massive amounts of beetles flying around and the worst thing is they’re starting to kill more trees making more food so we’re really into a nasty feedback cycle.”
This is just the first part of the cycle which Dr. Moore believes began after a lot of trees were downed and damaged during typhoon Dolphin last summer creating new breeding sites. If the cycle rings true Guam could see a boom in the coconut rhino beetle population in the next few months or so.
Although Guam has a type of beetle that was resistant to a previous virus Dr. Moore is still confident they can find a strain of virus that will work on Guam’s coconut rhino beetle.