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Beetles destroy cashew trees in Piauí

Reproduction Youtube Farmers working at night capture Liogenys pilosipennis by the bucketloadReproduction Youtube

In early October, a huge swarm of dark red beetles unexpectedly descended on the small town of Pio IX in the east of Piauí and devastated cashew trees and other plants. Farmers and local residents spent their nights using light traps to capture the insects by the bucketload. Based on samples sent from the field, agronomist Paschoal Coelho Grossi of the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco (UFRPE) identified the beetle as Liogenys pilosipennis. Described as a new species in a 2015 article in the journal Dugesiana based on specimens collected in the Cerrado, it averages 12.5 millimeters (mm) in length and 6 mm in width. Experts from EMBRAPA Central-North and agricultural defense agencies in Piauí met at the end of October to plan how to combat the pest, which has never attacked cashew trees in the past. They advised farmers not to use insecticides because organic honey is also produced in the region, instead recommending that they continue to use light traps. “In some places, especially where light traps have been used, the number of beetles is decreasing, but in others it continues to rise,” observed Paulo Henrique Soares da Silva, an agronomist from EMBRAPA Central-North. He believes the beetle larvae may have proliferated as a result of a longer rainy season than usual (Dugesiana, July 2015; EMBRAPA Newsletter, October 30).