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Coffee berry borer is discovered in wild beans on Lanai

Invasive pest first appeared on Hawaii island in 2010

The coffee berry borer, shown here, was discovered in wild coffee on Lanai last month. Hawaii Department of Agriculture photo

The Maui News

The destructive coffee berry borer was found in wild coffee on Lanai for the first time last month, the state Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.

Described as one of the most devastating pests of coffee plants by the Agriculture Department, the beetle has been established on Hawaii island, Maui and Oahu for several years and was detected on Kauai earlier this month.

Between July 17 and 31, adult beetles were trapped in a forested area during a bark beetle survey in the Lana’ihale-Munro Trail area by Conrad Gillett and David Honsberger of the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, the department said. On Aug. 6, beetles and infested berries were hand-collected from wild coffee plants in the Kapano Gulch area by Pulama Lana’i staff.

Samples from both of these collections were forwarded to the state Department of Agriculture Plant Pest Control Branch in Honolulu, where an entomologist confirmed them as coffee berry borers.

The department will initiate a survey to assess the extent of the infestation.

“It is unknown at this time how the beetle got to wild coffee plants on Lanai,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairwoman of the state Board of Agriculture, in a news release. “We appreciate the assistance of the multiple agencies that are helping us to determine the extent of this infestation and how CBB may have been introduced to the island.”

The coffee berry borer was first detected in the state in September 2010 in Kona and discovered in Kau in May 2011. It was found on Oahu in December 2014, on Maui in Kipahulu in December 2016 and on Kauai in September. It is still unknown how the beetle first made its way to Hawaii island and how it has spread to other islands, the department said.

This small beetle bores into the coffee cherry to lay its eggs, the department said. The larvae feed on the coffee bean, reducing the yield and quality of the bean. Since its detection in Hawaii, coffee growers have developed methods to manage the pest, which include using an organic pesticide and field sanitation. Some farms with good management practices have been able to keep infestation levels down significantly.

The coffee berry borer, hypothenemus hampei, is native to Central Africa and also is found in many coffee-growing regions of the world, including Central and South America. Hawaii has strict importation rules requiring all imported green coffee beans for roasting and associated packing materials be fumigated prior to entering the state to ensure beans are free of pathogens and insect pests. These rules also subject coffee plants and propagative plant parts to strict quarantine requirements if imported to Hawaii, the department said.

In addition, the department requires a permit prior to transporting unroasted coffee beans, coffee plants and plant parts, used coffee bags and coffee harvesting equipment moving from an infested island to other islands within the state. The rule also requires inspection by department Plant Quarantine inspectors, mitigation measures and certain treatments prior to shipping.

For unroasted coffee beans, acceptable treatment protocols include fumigation, freezing and heat treatment.

To report possible coffee berry borer infestations on Lanai, call the department’s Plant Pest Control Branch at (808) 973-9525.

For more information on the beetle in Hawaii, go to the department’s coffee berry borer webpage at http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/ppc/cbbinfo/ and the UH-CTAHR webpage at http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/site/CBB.aspx.

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