The coffee cherry borer is a scourge for coffee producers, ruining crops by boring into the still-maturing cherries to lay their eggs that then feast on the fruit. One of the most devastating pests for coffee crops, the small beetle native to Africa has made its way to farms around the world, and for the first time in history, the coffee borer has been confirmed on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i.
As reported by the Hawai’i Department of Agriculture, a resident of Kalaheo turned over to the Kaua’i Invasive Species Committee a sample of coffee cherries that were suspected of being infested by the beetle. The samples were then sent to the Hawai’i Department of Agriculture and the University of Hawai’i’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources for examination, where on September 4th the HDOA’s Plant Pest Control Branch confirmed the existence of the coffee borer.
In light of the findings, per the HDoA, additional samples from the resident have been collected as well as samples from neighboring farms, with more sites to be tested shortly. Kauai Coffee, the island’s largest coffee producer, has yet to detect any instances of the pest. The extent of the pest’s damage on Kaua’i is not yet known.
Though this is the first instance of the coffee borer beetle appearing in Kaua’i, it is not the first appearance of the pest in Hawai’i. In 2010, the coffee borer was found in Kona before making its way to Ka’u, O’ahu, and Maui in 2011, 2014, and 2016, respectively. While the coffee borer is believed to move across oceans via “accidental introduction of contaminated seeds,” it is still unknown how exactly it came to Hawai’i in the first place nor how it has moved between islands.