6 No 1
Butterflies and their food plants
at Sungei Buloh
Land before time about the insects at Sungei Buloh
in Singapore Mangroves
5th Anniversary Celebrations
Volunteer Annual General Meeting
Otters in Sight and a Masked Finfoot sighting
As the wind blows, their elegant fronds dance with the flow of the breeze. Coconut trees possess the mystical ability to conjure up a tropical paradise atmosphere wherever they may be found.
However, like all other kinds of vegetation, coconut trees are susceptible to insect attacks. The insect that is most likely to attack it is none other than the Rhinoceros Beetle. The Malays refer to them as "kumbang tandok", meaning Horn Beetle. Only the male rhinoceros beetle has the distinctive horns that give this intriguing creature its name.
This particular species measures up to 43mm, making it one of the biggest insects in Southeast Asia. However, it cannot be compared with its counterparts, the Goliath and Hercules Beetles from tropical America and Africa respectively, which can measure up to an amazing 155mm!
It lays its eggs in rubbish heaps, rotting trees trunks, sawdust, and other vegetative matter. These hatch into small larvae in 10 to 18 days. The young or larvae feed on decaying wood and vegetative matter and can grow to lengths of about 60mm or more. During this stage, they do not damage the plants. The larval stage lasts for 2.5 to 7 months after which pupation takes place within the breeding site. The pupae will require another 1.5 to 2 months before it transforms into an adult and becomes a threat to the palms.
They enter the heart of the palms and feed on the tender tissues within. Subsequently, the new leaves will be damaged and the resulting fan-shaped frond is characteristic of a Rhinoceros Beetle attack.
To control the population of this insect, chemicals such as carbofuran is used. Traditionally, a piece of barbed wire was used to spear and collect the beetles attacking the young leaves of palms.
So the next time you see your palm fronds bearing the Rhinoceros Beetle's characteristic signature, stop to take a close look around. There may be a new bug in town.
© Sungei Buloh Nature Park