NEWS

Setting traps for the beetles is better than using chemical sprays

Many landscape designers have complained recently about the excessive use on palm trees of a certain chemical that is used to control pests on citrus fruit on the island of Crete. The fact is that any palms already infested by the red palm weevil cannot be saved. Rather than adding more spray to the already overburdened soil of Crete, it is better to set traps for the weevil. These newly introduced pests and the difficulty of dealing with them should make us revise the policy that permits the introduction of non-endemic plants that look as if they might flourish. In fact such plants can be hosts to pests that are difficult and expensive to control and have serious environmental consequences. In early 2006, both the Greek Palm Society and the Benaki Phytological Institute mobilized Agriculture Ministry services and municipalities in Crete due to problems with the insect. Special emphasis was laid on the potential threat to the Phoenix theophrasti, mainly in Vai but also in other places on Crete (such as Preveli and Martsalo). The Municipality of Itanos, where Vai is located, held a conference on the red palm weevil in April last year, shortly after New Democracy Eurodeputy Ioannis Glavakis, an agriculturalist and nursery owner, had raised the issue with the European Commission. Following this initiative, European Union Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou decided there was a need to review existing regulations. On April 26 this year, Greece’s Agriculture Ministry announced measures for preventing the introduction and spread of the harmful Rhynchophorus ferrugineus into the Community, in line with a European Union decision. (1) Nikos Thymakis is a consultant agriculturalist and founding member of the Greek Society of Friends of Palms who has published widely on the subject of palms in Greece and the conservation of the Cretan palm ([email protected]). This article first appeared in the July issue of Kathimerini’s monthly supplement, Eco.