Kapilina families chase the CRB

Volunteers go over CRB display items with children.

Kailee Lefebvre

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Response

“Chase” the coconut rhinoceros beetle (CRB) is the name of the CRB Response team’s mascot, and is also the theme of the first-ever community CRB hunt held Saturday, July 28, at Kapilina Beach Homes.

Kapilina Beach Homes, a community in Iroquois Point, has been host to a sustained population of CRB since at least 2013.

This event provided the opportunity for the Kapilina community to learn about the invasive beetle, how they can contribute to response efforts, and foster an appreciation for coconut trees and other palms.

A fungus native to Oahu that researchers are studying to create natural biocontrol, a chemical free pesticide.

The CRB is a large beetle native to Southeast Asia that feeds mainly on palms. Since the first detection of the beetle at the Honolulu International Airport and later at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in December 2013, there has been a collaborative effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, University of Hawaii, Department of the Navy, and others to eradicate CRBs from Hawaii.

Participants got to examine CRB specimens, dig for live larvae in containers of mulch, sample coconut products, make arts and crafts, practice palm weaving and learn from scientists and partner agencies about their contributions to the effort to eradicate CRB from Hawaii.

The event featured a “grub grab” where children could dig in the dirt to practice finding CRBs. They used oriental flower beetles larve in the displays.

“Oriental flower beetles (OFB) are used for demos. said Keith Weiser, CRB deputy of operations. “Usually we get calls for them mistaken as CRBs but where you find OFBs is also a potential breeding ground for CRBs.”

At nightfall, eager families were armed with bug-hunting gear and led to an area in the community that has been a hot spot for beetle activity. Participants were encouraged to inspect all possible places beetles could be found — in the grass, on the trees, and even in the air.

Chase the CRB poses for photos with children.

Although no live CRBs were found that night, the community now has a better idea of where this elusive species lives and breeds.

Efforts to trap beetles, survey for damage and prevent CRB from breeding in the area have been ongoing since then but eradication will take the community’s cooperation and input.

Children participate in CRB educational activities

The CRB Response hopes to increase community engagement through events and activities like the bug hunt in the future.

Hawaii is at risk of economic harm from losses in the tourism sector. Additionally, many Hawaiian cultural practices and native endangered palm species could be lost.

The majority of CRB populations are concentrated around Pearl Harbor. The species has never been detected on any islands besides Oahu.

The CRB Response relies on the cooperation of the public to report beetle captures, damage and fallen or broken traps.

Proper green waste management such as regular disposal and hot composting will prevent breeding sites.

For reports and inquiries, contact CRB Response at 643-PEST (7378) or Beetle-BustersHI@gmail.com. To learn more, visit: hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/main/crb/.

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Category: News