Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Div. of Plant Industry, has issued a pest alert for giant palm weevils.
The agency considers the weevils of the genus Rhynchophorus Herbst among the worst palm pests in the world.
One species, Rhynchophorus cruentatus, is native to Florida and the southeastern U.S. Two other species, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus and Rhynchophorus palmarum, are found in the New World and are considered to be threats to Florida palms. Adult palm weevils are the largest weevils in North America, ranging from about 1 to 1.8 inches.
Of particular concern is R. ferrugineus, known as the red palm weevil. It is a pest of coconut and other palms in its native range. Over the past 30 years, its range has expanded into the Middle East, North Africa and Mediterranean Europe. It attacks many palm species, but is especially devastating on date palms. It recently became established in Curaçao in the Caribbean, moving it closer to Florida. It is suspected that the weevils travelled with imported palms.
In January 2010, the federal government prohibited the importation into the U.S. of live palms belonging to 17 genera.