Palm trees in the Chapala area are under threat of a mass death caused by the South American palm weevil (Rhynchophorus palmarum), a species of snout beetle known as the mayate prieto in Spanish.
The fatal plague has spread from outbreaks in coconut groves on the Pacific coast.
The municipal ecology office has detected dozens of cases of weevil infestations in different types of palms, prompting the felling of as many as 40 trees growing on private properties and a similar number in public spaces.
The black bugs measure about one and a half inch in length in the adult stage, while the larvae may grow to two inches. The devastation comes from the larvae that eat the palms from the inside out, typically in the crown of the tree.
Unable to grow new fronds, the trees die from the top down. First symptoms of infestation are yellowing and notched fraying appearing on new fronds. Within a few weeks the crowns may begin to droop and collapse.
Curative and preventive treatments are costly, requiring the intervention of tree care experts. The suggested practical approach is to cut down diseased palms and burn them to prevent the further contagion.For additional information and tree removal permits, visit the ecology office located in the north wing of the upper floor at city hall.