NANAKULI, Hawaii (KHON2) — A learning experience was what the Department of Parks and Recreation said of their handling of trees that were infested with coconut rhinoceros beetles at Tracks Beach Park.

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KHON2 learned that they will do things differently going forward.

The trees at Tracks Beach Park looked barren in September, when KHON2 aired the story of the apparent rhinoceros beetle infestation.

Crews were sent out to cut down the trees and grind up the stumps in October, but filled the holes that were left with mulch from those very same stumps. Community leaders said that is great for killing the adult beetles.

“But there are eggs,” said Nanakuli/Maili Neighborhood Board Chair Samantha DeCorte. “And so those eggs, you can’t even see with the naked eye and they will survive throughout the shredder.”

KHON2 reached out to the City about the mulch that was left.

“But that wasn’t the right approach. So what we did was we went back, removed the mulch and put topsoil there because actually what we’ve been doing for several years is really minimizing where we put our mulch because we know that mulch is actually one of the breeding grounds for the coconut rhinoceros beetle,” Department of Parks and Recreation Spokesman Nate Serota said.

With live beetles on Oahu and Kauai, a dead beetle found in September on Maui and grubs found on Hawaii Island in October, DeCorte said there is urgency to get infested trees replaced.

“Because in 10 years time, coconut trees are going to be extinct and we have to take a proactive approach to that,” DeCorte said.

Serota said they are in discussions to replace the trees at tracks, but that has its own challenges on Oahu’s west side.

“It’s really difficult to plant new trees because it’s so drought-stricken over there,” Serota said. “So you want to make sure that it’s properly watered at least a couple of times a week and that it’s cared for.”

DeCorte said plans are moving forward and she is encouraged.

“They have already sat down with us and gave us the thumbs up to go ahead and replace those dead trees,” DeCorte said.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture said an ideal situation would call for cutting the tree as close to the ground as possible, taking the stump to a licensed green waste recycler and treating the area with chemicals. Serota said this learning experience would not have happened without community reporting.

“The more that they can let the HDOA and us know about trees that they feel like are impacted or infested with coconut rhinoceros beetle, the better,” Serota said.

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Click here to visit the coconut rhinoceros beetle response website or call 808-643-PEST.