The palm weevil also known as Nten in Ibibio is an interesting insect based on its economic implications to farmers and the host plants it favors. It chooses the selected host for the purpose of feeding and breading its young.
Adult palm weevil although they feed and derive their nutrients from the tress/plants, eat their way through other choice meals like squash fruits, coconut, apple, sugar cane and palm trees.
The adult weevil are only the messengers while their larvae are the destructive force who feed frenzy continuously through the soft trunk tissues of the host tree.
– Where are red palm weevil found?
The red palm weevil because of its preference for the palm tree got its name red palm weevil. Its binomial name is Rhynchophorus Ferruginous and is also known as the coconut weevil, Asiatic weevil, Indian red palm weevil and sago red palm weevil.
The pests is indigenous to southeast Asia, middle east countries like Egypt, Syria, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Morocco other countries such as Turkey, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Somalia. The red weevil insect covers a wide range because of its ability to travel up to 15km a day.
– Stages Of Development
Insects generally go through very complex metamorphosis changing into extremely opposite living organisms through their development stage before ending up as adult insects.
The stages which is well known to all is the egg-larva-pupa-adult stages, the eggs of insects are similar but might have different hues and dimensions the larva also vary extensively in each insect type.
– Egg Of Red Palm Weevil
The red weevil uses its ovipositor to lay eggs between cut, scrapes cracks, slits in the trunk of the tree. It also bore holes at the base of petiole, under fresh tissues of young palm leaves.
The sago weevil can lay between 350 to 500 eggs per clutch a process which it repeats at least 5 times within a single year depending on the season, weather and conditions. Egg lying is strictly conditioned with the climate so it is very climate dependent.
Sago red palm weevil eggs are smooth white or yellowish- white shinny cylindrical shaped with rounded ends with frontal region assuming a narrower dome the eggs hatch within three to six days depending on favorable climatic conditions.
– Red Weevil Larvae
This is the most interesting stage of the life cycle of the red palm weevil. After the eggs have hatched between the soft hollow of new palm trees or on the bottom of the leaves they become maggot looking larvae.
They have two basic colors white or yellowish white. They are long segmented without legs with head region reddish black that has very powerful conical jaws that they use in reaping the palm trees from inside out.
The sago weevil eats nonstop borrowing deep into the stalk killing the plant in the process. The leaves become yellowish and eventually the entire tree shreds and dies, there devastating infestation is well known to farmers.
The subcutaneous layer of the palm tree provides the larva shelter from natural enemies like birds, other ants, and primates like monkeys or reptiles such as lizards. The red weevil larva can borrow into the plant up to one and half meters and can grow up to about 5cm long or more they are plump shaped and very tough and versatile grubs.
– Larva As A Food Source
The edible maggots is loaded with protein and other nutrients so it can be eaten raw if you can overcome its distasteful appearance. When you chew it will burst in the mouth releasing some kind of liquid, despite the unpleasant feel in the mouth they are juicy and creamy to taste.
When fried in vegetable oil, ground nut oil or bacon oil extract, backed, grilled, smoked or roasted they taste like regular meat and bacon. The head must first be cut off and discarded if you eat raw or processed.
Many countries partake in this culinary delight especially in Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea, Nigeria, morocco, Egypt, Sudan, India, so parts of Europe and many other countries.
There are many types of insects eaten around the world for their high protein content. They are believed to have more protein than cattle, sheep or goats. Some popular ones are the saturnalia caterpillar, scarab beetle larvae and terminates or even the regurgitated bee meals we know as honey.
– The Adult Red Palm Weevil
The adult red palm weevil has an ovoid shaped elongated head and derives its name from its color which ranges from red, reddish brown, reddish black and rusty brown. It is known to grow to a length of between 18mm to 40mm, width of 10mm to 18mm.
You can find some circular bleach spots on its body with an overall shape that is elongated and curved. The males have a long nose with erect short hair while the female weevil does not possess this added feature.
– The red palm weevil
The adult red palm weevil on its own is not entirely destructive, but its larvae stage can render an entire palm tree plantation dead.
The weevil’s larva is cherished as a delicacy and eaten in several countries which promoted some countries to start red weevil farms strictly to harvest the larvae at maturity.
There are many edible insects which can be referred to in scientific terms as entomology which is the consumption of various kinds of insects, many animals are better adapted to eating insects but human beings in almost every comer of the world also indulge in this practice for good reason.
Insects and some of their larva and eggs are loaded with protein and minerals, some edible insects are grasshopper, crickets, locust, palm grubs, mo pane caterpillars and meal worms are commonly eating.
The insect although very destructive has economic benefits in the protein content and edibility of the larvae stage of the pest. With proper management the potential of the insect may outweigh its destructive capabilities making it a viable resource in modern farming techniques.
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