The 2021 Spring Issue of KAUST Impact featured an article highlighting the KAUST Photonics Lab's effort "to alleviate the negative impacts the pest is having on Saudi Arabia’s date industry."
"Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s leading producers of dates, with a 20% share of global production. In addition to being a major source of economic revenue, the fruit holds a distinct place in the Kingdom’s traditions and culture: a date palm features prominently on the country’s coat of arms. However, this iconic plant faces a growing threat from the red palm weevil, a 2- to 4-cm beetle originating from tropical areas in Asia. The pest has proved devastating to date palm crops in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. It lays eggs inside palms, and the larvae spend their entire four-month life cycle within the tree’s trunk, hollowing it out from the inside until the tree dies. In Saudi Arabia, weevil larvae cost the date palm industry an estimated $8.7 million in economic losses each year due to their management and eradication."
The full article can be accessed through the link below: