Had a bad cup of coffee? Blame the beetles!

Did you know that the Coffee Berry Borer is the only animal that lives exclusively off coffee? Technically it is the most caffeinated animal on our planet, able to eat the equivalent of 230 cups of coffee daily. Unfortunately, this means that they are a huge problem to coffee growers in Hawaii, Costa Rica, Panama, and other coffee growing countries/regions. Originally from Central African, this borer from the bark beetle family, is approximately the size of one poppy seed and has been found in over 80 countries. Notwithstanding its size, it has the capacity to cause enormous damage to crops; reducing yields upwards of 80%. However, current and ongoing research suggests that predator breeding stations might be the best way to augment biological controls for the Coffee Berry Borer.How is it that these little pests can cause approximately $500 million dollars’ worth of damage annually? The lifecycle of this pest is exclusively within the coffee berry itself, which later is roasted into what we know as the coffee “bean.” Therefore, it is incredibly hard to monitor and/or control. There are a few ways in which we can see the damage of these pests on the coffee plant: falling of young berries, fungus or infections, decrease in yields or overall numbers and a decrease in the quality of the berry itself (which has been reported is the most significant damage). Although there are a few ways in which coffee growers try and deal with this pest invasion, namely with cultural and physical controls (cutting infested berries, pruning, etc.), and traps have been used to detect the problem, new research is suggesting the use of natural predators as a control method as a supplement to currently used biological controls.


Alpha Scents, in concert with USDA scientists are testing an innovative predator augmentation program that uses an aggregation pheromone and food source to augment the population of the Square-Necked Grain Beetle, a predator of Coffee Berry Borer. Predator ‘starter kits’ have been distributed to more than 250 growers that contain a pheromone created by Alpha Scents to attract the predator to these stations. There they reproduce and multiply on the food source made up of corn. Once the food is depleted, predators leave the stations and move into the coffee plantations, feeding on the Coffee Berry Borer.

For more information contact us at sales@alphascents.com or visit us next week, Wednesday April 25th from 8am-4pm at the Coffee Berry Borer Conference, hosted at the Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Dee you there!

Sources used:

(Coffee Beetle Microbes Can Survive on Pure Caffeine) Newsweek. 2018. Coffee Beetle Microbes Can Survive on Pure Caffeine. (http://www.newsweek.com/coffee-beetle-microbes-can-survive-pure-caffeine-353899).

(Coffee Berry Borer (CBB) Ctahr.hawaii.edu. 2018. Coffee Berry Borer (CBB). (https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/site/CBBManage.aspx).

Wright, M. 2014. Coffee borer beetle entering and exiting a coffee cherry. Indonesia.