The red palm weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus; Olivier, 1790) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) has recently become the most severe palm pest in the Mediterranean basin. Its dispersal was initially supported mainly by the acquisition of infested trees, but was further facilitated by the weevils’ flight. Therefore, knowledge of weevils’ flight capacity is a key element in evaluating their dispersal capability and setting preventive actions in advance. We tested the weevils’ flight ability in repeated flights that were 7–10 days apart by computer-monitored flight mill with a seesaw design. Tested flight parameters were: flight distance, duration, and velocity, number of flights, and cumulative flight distance, of virgin and mated weevils of both sexes. Our tests found no differences in flight distance between virgin and mated individuals or between sexes. Weevils showed flight capability between the ages of 2 and 97 days, and covered up to 315 km of cumulative distance during this time. In addition, we tested the effect of age of flight initiation and found that old starters perform fewer flights than young starters, and are thus assumed to possess inferior dispersal capabilities.
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- Rhynchophorus ferrugineus
- pest dispersal
- red palm weevil
- tethered flight