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Another invasive species has been observed, one that might pose a potential threat to the ecology of Curacao. We received the following text from Mr Gerard van Buurt, who pleaded for years for a serious and consistent approach to the issues surrounding invasive species, without, however, any pro-active response of the authorities. Government: wake up and take action. These issues are also part of your responsibilities!
“Yesterday I received notice of Mr. Manuel Boot, of the gardening company Vitis, that Agave Weevils were discovered in local Agave species at Coral Estate at St. Marie.
The Agave Weevil (Scyphophorus acupunctatus) is a weevil which, like the Red Palm Weevil, causes high levels of damage, not to palm trees, but to agaves. This beetle is deadly for agaves. It drills holes in the agave and lays its eggs, these develop into larvae which devour the insides of the agave causing the entire Agave to collapse. Fungi also often penetrate the plant through the holes and affect the plant even further.
Agaves are an important source of food for nectarivorous bats, and also for lots of bird species; they assist these animal species in surviving the dry season, and are important ‘Keystone species‘. Sometimes invasive species can still be eradicated, when they just entered the Island and did not yet spread out, by rigorously spraying all host plants within the surrounding area of the infected zone with a systemic insecticide, together with removal of all affected plants so no additional adult insects are allowed to fly out and spread.
Action should be taken as soon as possible. If these insects are allowed to spread out further, than nothing can be done anymore, except documenting the damage to nature which will be severe. This beetle also affects other species, like the ornamental plant Yucca (not Cassava) and Pony tails (Beaucarnia species), but also several species within the Dracaenaceae family, all species that widely occur in gardens. The beetle is smaller than the Red Palm Weevil and black. Other names are: Agave Billbug, Agave Snout-nosed beetle/weevil, Sisal Weevil and Acapiche del nardo.”