Coffee Beetles Bug Hawaii Farmers

Coffee Berry Borers. Coffee Berry Borers. Say that five times fast, and you can only imagine the frustration Hawaii coffee farmers have been experiencing with these tiny pests. They first discovered the Africa-native beetle on Hawaii Island farms in 2010; since then, the insects have multiplied rapidly.

What does this mean for Hawaii coffee lovers? Well, not a whole lot just yet – as there haven’t been any reports of a “coffee shortage” nor have I seen Kona coffee taken off of menus around town. But before the cup comes the crop, and so far, the crops ain’t lookin’ too good.

The devastation begins when the female beetle burrows into the coffee berries (not the bean itself). They lay up to 50 eggs inside, and after hatching, the young beetles eat the seed before mating. It is this very unfortunate process that has been frustrating Kona and Kau farmers ever since.

The good news is that farmers have been taking action against these pests, thanks to federal monies meant for research and better preparedness. A natural fungus spray has also been used to battle the bugs. Lets hope it works – both for those who make a living on these coffee crops and those who’s daily sanity depends on a cup of caffeine!

Photo Courtesy: Wiki Commons

Posted by: Bruce Fisher