Control of coffee berry borer and increase of coffee yields using Surround WP (kaolin)

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2011: $47,648.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Shawn Steiman
Coffea Consulting

Annual Reports


  • Additional Plants: coffee


  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Pest Management: physical control, prevention
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture


    In two seasons while fruits were on trees, Surround® WP, a kaolin-based particle film, was applied to coffee (Coffea arabica) biweekly to measure its efficacy in controlling the coffee berry borer (CBB, Hypothenemus hampei Ferrari (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae)) and increasing coffee cherry yields. Surround® WP decreased CBB infestation 28-79% with adequate coverage. On one farm, Surround® WP increased coffee cherry yields by 15%.


    One of the most destructive pests of coffee (Coffea arabica) is the Coffee Berry Borer, (CBB) Hypothenemus hampei Ferrari (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae). The females, 1.5 – 2.0 mm in length, bore through the apex of immature and mature fruit and into the developing coffee seed, the marketable product. Once inside the seed, the females lay their eggs. Inside the seeds, the eggs hatch and grow into mature adults. Upon fertilization from their brothers, the now-pregnant females leave the seed to find a new one to lay their own eggs. As most of the life cycle of the beetle is spent buried within a fruit and seed, it is very difficult to control. The best control method is to limit the potential population of the beetle with field sanitation; that is, by removing every cherry possible at the end of each season. This is an expensive, laborious, and often difficult task; thus, it is typically supplemented by other control methods. Traps with lures are recommended to monitor the presence and intensity of the population within a particular segment of the field. When high populations are discovered, formulations of the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana can be sprayed to attack the beetle. Finally, some synthetic agrochemicals, such as Endosulfan, are effective in controlling the CBB.

    Coffee is one of the most important agricultural crops in Hawaii. In 2011, it was the sixth highest earning commodity in the state, earning the state approximately $31.5 million annually. With 830 total farms, there were more coffee farms than any other type of farm, about half of which were located in Kona (Hawaii Annual Statistics Bulletin 2011).

    In 2010, the CBB was confirmed to be present in Kona, Hawaii (Burbano et al. 2011). Since that time, yield reductions have been estimated at an average of 20% across the region (Hicks 2013). Controlling the CBB has proved particularly challenging in Kona. As labor is very expensive and many farms are located on porous lava rock, it is very difficult to maintain excellent field sanitation practices. In addition, the effectiveness of Beauveria bassiana formulations has been reported to control 20% of the CBB population, even in the humid areas of Kona where it is most likely to be effective (Bittenbender 2013). Finally, effective synthetic agrochemicals, such as Endosulfan, are banned in the U.S. and are not available as control methods. Consequently, alternate control methods were sought.

    Particle film technologies have proven to be effective in controlling a variety of insect pests (Glenn and Puterka 2005). Particle films can act against insects in a number of ways. These include mechanical abrasion, desiccation, disruption of visual and tactile perception, interruption of feeding, and interruption of oviposition. Surround® WP, a kaolin based particle film technology, has proven effective against a range of insect pests, including other Curculionidae (Joubert et al. 2004, Thomas et al. 2004, Lapointe et al. 2006). It is relatively low in price, organic-approved, and easy to apply. Its use does not influence coffee cup quality and, when used consistently for two years, it can increase coffee yields (Steiman et al. 2007, 2011).

    This research tested the efficacy of Surround® WP in controlling the CBB and increasing yields in coffee.

    Project objectives:

    The objectives of this project were to 1) measure the effectiveness of Surround WP as a control measure for the coffee berry borer, 2) test, on working farms, if Surround WP can increase coffee yields, and 3) share the information with as many coffee farmers in Hawaii as possible.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.