Drones lead Hawaii’s coconut rhinoceros beetle battle
Hawaii may seem like a tropical paradise to many, but its climate and location make it vulnerable to some rapidly growing and destructive invasive pests – a reality officials are now dealing with by deploying drones to battle a species of rhinoceros beetle ravaging the archipelago’s iconic coconut trees.
Led by researchers at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, drones are being flown to conduct targeted sprays of coconut trees showing signs of rhinoceros beetle infestation. The non-native pest has no natural predators in the islands, and thus has been left unchecked as it gnaws to death a range of plants – including betelnut, Pandanus palms, banana, pineapple, and sugarcane. Given the economic and merely aesthetic damage that has inflicted on some of the islands’ trademark flora, officials have decided to deploy insecticide-shooting drones as the insect’s enemy-designate.
Growing up to nearly 2.5 inches in length, the horned pest looks like a…