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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
faq-icon.png SAP FAQS
  • How do I identify the Weevil?

    weevilsThe Red Palm Weevil has characteristics that make it unmistakeable.

    Adult Weevils may grow to a length of 5cm, and are commonly between 2cm and 5cm long. The most distinguishing features include a prominent elongated snout (rostrum), with jaws visible at the tip. The weevil is bright red with variable black markings, and the larvae of the Red Palm Weevil lack legs.

  • What are Red Palm Weevils doing in my Palm tree?

    They are eating their way to its heart, relentlessly, quite noisily (if you’re patient, you can actually hear the larvae chomping) and if like local expert Antonio Lambe you possess a stethoscope, you can detect them by placing the listening end on the tree trunk! Several generations of weevil can live in any one palm at the same time, and they will all stay there, content and out of sight, until they have eaten it’s very life force and source. Once they’ve chewed their way through the juicy, succulent crown, it will be “time to move on” – and by this time, there will be enough adult weevils to infest at least another eight trees.

    Remember, weevils can fly kilometres (and benefit from the Algarve’s wind!) That’s why it is SO important to carry out prevention treatment on a regular basis. A tree that is being treated is infinitely safer from infestation than a tree that is being left to chance

  • How can I tell if my palm tree is infected?

    Diagnosing Red Palm Weevil infestation is not easy in its initial stages, when the weevil occurs at low densities and causes limited damage. Any damage to the palm may be obscured by the general state of the injured or sickly palms that they prefer to attack.  However, once palms become properly infested, the symptoms become evident.  The period of infestation prior to symptoms becoming recognisable, as well as the type and degree of symptoms themselves, depends on factors such as the point of entry of weevils, the degree of infestation and the general health of the palm under attack

  • What are the tell-tale signs that my palm has a weevil problem?

    Weevils do the greatest damage when they enter palms via the crown, where they damage growth of new fronds, eventually killing the palm.  Signs to look out for are new leaves in the centre of the crown that look sparse, lean or weak, or that show signs of having been eaten.  New fronds that show these signs can be pulled off easily.  One of the most dramatic signs of attack is a Palm with its crown centre in a state of complete collapse. 

    Palms that are attacked via scars and damaged tissue away from the crown, generally suffer less severe damage, and may include symptoms such as mature fronds diverting from their normal orientation, giving the palms a disordered and asymmetrical look. Tunnels and emergence holes produced by weevils will be visible in fronds after removal for inspection. It will also be possible to detect detritus produced by feeding larvae.  Other symptoms include a smell of rotting and fermenting plant material emitting from affected parts of the trees, large exit holes of adult weevils, and the presence of the larvae and pupal cases of the weevils.

  • What are Nematodes?

    Nematodes are tiny biological organisms and each type has a specific purpose – a particular insect to seek out and destroy. Nematodes were thought to be the biological answer to this plague, but sadly, on their own, they are not. The “good thing” about nematodes is that they like eating Red Palm Weevil larvae (the stage in the RPW life cycle that causes the most damage). Nematodes need to be introduced into the crown of the tree, diluted in water, where they will wiggle their way down the tunnels created by the RPW, finally catching up with them and destroying them (very effective when the larvae are in their chrysalis form). The “bad thing” about nematodes, however, is that, unlike RPW, they do not live and live and live. In fact, nematodes have a very short life span… which means their introduction needs to be repeated and repeated and repeated if they’re going to be 100% effective.


     On their own, it’s asking for a miracle – which is why we recommend using nematodes in conjunction with chemicals.

     The chemicals we’re using at the moment are doing a great job… but for how long depends on how many people take up prevention treatment.

     The longer people fail to protect their trees, the more time RPW has to develop new ways round prevention treatments.

  • What do I do if I suspect that my palm is infected?

    As there is no official national programme in the Algarve, it is important to contact a professional service immediately.  Also alert neighbours to the potential problem, as the weevils will spread amongst trees within a very wide radius.

    Whatever you do, do not start to attack the tree yourself, without firstly consulting an expert or professional.  Cutting back the fronds can worsen the situation as it creates new entry points for further infestation, and your palm will be suffering enough damage already.

  • Are there any new ideas in the pipeline?

    YES! That’s what is so encouraging. A lot of work is being done on RPW treatment in the USA now… but local expert Antonio Lambe is convinced that breeding mites which live on the underside of the weevils’ wings (and then rub off as they travel from tree to tree) may be the answer – as the mites attack the larvae.

    The idea is very much in its infancy, and so far there is no breeding programme to mass-produce the weevil killing mites…

  • What area of the Algarve do SAP! cover?

    Pedro welcomes clients from the Algarve region, and is himself based near Lagos.  He regularly tends palm trees throughout the Lagos to Sagres area, stretching east to Silves/ Lagoa, and north as far as Aljezur. Contact us for more information

  • What is a typical treatment plan?

    Prevention treatment consists of regular spraying with a combination of chemicals. Currently we use "Confidor", "Soleol" and "Actara".

    Like certain viruses, weevils can become immune to chemicals over time – thus the chemcical combination is subject to change.

    Treatment for infestation is almost always two-pronged. We use both biological nematodes (introducing up to 50,000 million per tree), following on a week later with chemicals (as above) and then re-treating the tree after a three-week period.
    Within a short time results are visibly forthcoming – with new shoots spelling the beginning of the tree’s recovery

  • Are there any precautions I can take against Red Palm Weevil?

    Yes, but as with the previous question "What do I do if I suspect that my palm is infected?", it is imprortant to seek professional advice if you suspect that your trees are under attack.

    Read our advice for home care of your palms for some tips.

  • I have read about Weevil Traps, do they work?

    Essentially the trap is a large bucket with side openings and a top cover from which scent lures are hung. There are differing opinions over the efficiency of such bucket traps, however do bear in mind that Weevil traps can spell disaster UNLESS they are sited at least 50 m from your tree as otherwise they can help lure weevils right to their favourite food: your tree!