NAGAPATTINAM: The agriculture department officials and entomologists have advised the farmers near Vedaranyam in Nagapattinam district to remove the remains of coconut trees that fell during Cyclone Gaja to contain the spread of rhinoceros beetles ('Kaandamiruga Vandu').
The experts from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) and Tamil Nadu Dr J Jayalalithaa Fisheries University (TNJFU) confirmed the presence of the rhinoceros beetles in the fallen coconut trees near Vedaranyam in Nagapattinam district earlier this month. The beetles were seen the last time when Gaja cyclone hit the district two years back. "Such fallen trees are breeding ground for the rhinoceros beetles, and we have requested the farmers to destroy such remains of coconut trees as soon as possible," said an official from the agriculture department. The officials say that the farmers might not have removed due to lack of awareness or because they want to sell it to timber units.
What is Rhinoceros Beetle?
A Rhinoceros Beetle is a type of insect from scarab beetle family. They named so because their face resembles rhinoceros horn and it also is known to breed on the manure pits in the farms. The beetles are capable of living under the soil and attack the collar region of the saplings. Speaking about the spread of rhinoceros beetles, Dr VG Mathirajan, an entomologist from Coconut Research Station in Veppankulam, said, "We can learn about a rhinoceros beetle attack from the v-shaped cropping of leaves in the adult trees. We can also know from the dried coconut shoots, which leaves the young tree dead. So, prevention of beetle infestations is more critical while planting seedlings."
Methods of Prevention:
The entomologists have suggested organic methods to control the spread of rhinoceros beetles. Dr K Chandrasekar, an entomologist from ICAR-Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Sikkal, said, "The farmers can apply Metarhizium fungi on manure pits, and it will help in the destruction of beetle larva on manure. Moreover, the farmers can also apply Neem Seed Kernal Powder through the tree whorls, and also by setting up Pheromone Traps in fields. Farmers must opt for organic and manual methods."
Pheromone Trap Conflict:
The farmers have requested to provide them with free Pheremone Traps which cost Rs 350. However, the officials said that they would not be able to make arrangements due to lack of funds.