- The city of Mandelieu, on the Côte d'Azur, is testing a device against red palm weevil based on seismic sensors.
- The detector, installed for the moment on 50 trees, recognizes the "shearing movements of the plant's internal fibers by the larvae", at a stage where the palm tree can still be saved.
- The municipality plans to deploy the system on all its palms if the test is conclusive, this method being less expensive than a blind treatment generalized.
They pushed on 50 Phoenix Canariensis and also Washingtonia of Mandelieu. In height, directly on the trunks, small devices actually monitor the interior of these threatened trees. To fight against the red weevil, a parasite ranked as a first-class health hazard and which has been decimating palm trees on the French coast for the past ten years,
this municipality Alpes-Maritimes tests for a month a device "unique in France", based on seismic sensors.
"In addition to pheromone capture traps [7.400 insectes ont été prélevés en l’espace de six mois], we are currently spending tens of thousands of euros a year
for preventive treatments [à base de
nématodes] on the whole of the trees, blindly ", misses Sebastien Leroy, the mayor LR of this neighboring municipality of Cannes interrogated by 20 minutes. "This new system, which would cost only a few tens of euros per case, could allow us to identify the palms at the very beginning of the infestation when the larvae are not yet developed and they can still be eliminated", he added.
A follow-up transmitted in real time
Specifically, the detector, called Rhynchotrack, "is implanted directly on the stipe [faux-tronc] of the plant thanks to a conductive screw of 20 cm in length ", explains the Mandelian company Bioassays, which develops this innovation.
Inside the device, a "seismic detector highly sensitive to the shearing movements of the plant's internal fibers by the larvae allows an early identification of their presence," the company said. Connected, small devices are able to transmit their alert in real time. "This allows us a quick and effective intervention," says the mayor of Mandelieu.
"Let this very serious problem be treated with the seriousness that is required"
A first assessment of the operation should be made after a first quarter of use "and if it is conclusive, we could launch an installation campaign on our palms next summer," says Sebastien Leroy. "Some have decided to resolve to lose their palms, we prefer to try other ways to fight," he concludes.
In a report published mid-December, the Health Security Agency (ANSES) estimated that it is now impossible to eradicate the red palm weevil on the French coast. "The most ambitious realistic goal would be to stabilize the population of the parasite," the agency said. Due to a change in regulation at European level, the Ministry of Agriculture has to adopt a new decree laying down the modalities of struggle.
This Friday, the president of the Mediterranean Collective for Palm Safeguarding called for "that this very serious problem, not only in France but also at the international level, particularly in North Africa, be treated with the seriousness that is required". Michel Ferry asks that "ANSES and the Directorate General for Agriculture organize very quickly an open consultation with the main stakeholders".