Guam and Rhino Beetle

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Nature is a balancing act. When a certain balance of a simple, natural ecosystem is disrupted, it becomes dangerously unstable. This is exactly what happened, and is currently happening, to the island of Guam. This two hundred and nine square mile island has a very simple ecosystem. The only native mammal here is the Mariana fruit bat (Miller). Consequently, when human development started on Guam its animal kingdom started to become quite unstable. For example, the brown tree snake has wiped out half of the bird population and is currently downsizing the population of rats. With no birds to eat the fruits of the trees, the forests’ seeds do not get distributed through their waste as they fly around, therefore hurting the growth of Guam’s forests (Miller). Guam’s biggest insect influence to date is the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle.
On September 11, 2007, Guam’s first Coconut Rhino Beetle, or Orcytes rhinoceros, was discovered on Tumon Bay, Guam near a wedding chapel (Moore). Unlike other beetles that appear quite sluggish and only feed on grass, such as the South African Beetle, the Rhino Beetle is very powerful (Hungay 314). A group of these beetles are able to feed off all the palms of a palm tree, until there is nothing left but the branch. The adults attack the trees, and the grubs—or maggots—live in the dead palm trees (Miller). This is a disaster for the tourist industry on Guam. This same beetle caused a problem in Palau in the 1940s, and still is. It wiped out fifty percent of the main island’s palm trees, and in some of Palau’s smaller islands, the beetles have wiped out the trees all together. Not only are palm trees expensive to buy and maintain, they are also the main attraction of an island that relies on tourism. And ...

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