SoCal Palm Trees Under Attack

This is the first sighting of the insect in the United States

Bill Henley 16
NBC10

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is launching a counter-attack on a group of insects attacking palm trees in Laguna Beach.

On Monday, California State Agricultural officials announced in a news release on their website they had confirmed the "detection of a red palm weevil in the Laguna Beach area of Orange County -- the first-ever detection of the pest in the United States."

This marks the first time the pest has been sighted in the United States, and it is not something to be taken lightly. According to LAist.com, the CDFA considers the insect to be "the world's worst pest of palm trees."

An infestation typically results in the death of the tree, according to the news release.

The weevil is native to Southeast Asia, and has spread as far as Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania. Until now, the only confirmed sightings close to the United States has been in Aruba and the Dutch Antilles last year.

The Laguna Beach Independent reports that this discovery has spurred action to contain the pests before an outbreak occurs.

State agricultural inspectors are deploying an initial 1,000 containers spiked with a chemical-soaked lure within a quarter mile or so around the intersection of Chiquita Street and Hillcrest Drive, said Jay Van Rein, a spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture, in Sacramento.

Van Rein is also concerned about the possibility that California's $30 million date crop in the Coachella Valley will be affected.

Since the initial discovery, about 400 more trees have been inspected, but there have been no additional sightings of the bug.

The CDFA is encouraging the public to help out and call the pest hotline at 1-800-491-1899 if they notice suspicious infestations around palm trees.

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