In the past three weeks, a 1.5-inch beetle has caused a flurry of activity among county, state and federal officials. Local palm enthusiasts have begun to panic. Landscape professionals, responsible for the health of the region's palms, are worried.
The Red Palm Weevil, the most destructive pest to palm trees, was recently discovered in northern Laguna Beach — the first time it's been seen in the United States. If this exotic pest establishes itself in California, the damage to date palms, both in landscapes and agriculturally, would likely be irreversible. In only a few years more than 100,000 Phoenix date palms have been destroyed in southern Europe. Many more are doomed, and the equivalent of more than 140 million Euros have been spent to little effect.
Monitoring efforts soon began after the discovery.
A visual survey was conducted by Don Hodel, an environmental horticulturist with the University of California Cooperative Extension and one of the country's leading palm specialists, and Nick Nisson, Orange County's entomologist. None were found.