PlantwisePlus Blog

Coffee is one of our most popular drinks, but coffee production worldwide is threatened by the Coffee Berry Borer, a tiny beetle which affects the yield and quality of coffee beans © Frank Gruber, via Flickr (License CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Coffee Berry Borer, Hypothenemus hampei, is a tiny beetle which is widely considered to be the most damaging pest of coffee plantations in the world. Originating in Africa, it is now found in almost all coffee growing areas in the world as an invasive species, with nearly 160 records from different areas worldwide on the Plantwise Distribution Map. Coffee is an extremely important commodity in many countries, including Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Vietnam, India and Indonesia. CABI is currently running a project led by Soetikno S. Sastroutomo in partnership with the Indonesian Coffee and Cacao Research Institute (ICCRI) and Papua New Guinea Coffee Industry Corporation Ltd (CIC) to address problems with the Coffee Berry Borer in Indonesia, where over 920,000 ha of coffee are infested, 95% of which are farmed by small holder farmers. Papua New Guinea is one of the last two remaining coffee nations without the pest, so the project also aims to prevent the establishment of the pest in Papua New Guinea and save the country’s extensive coffee growing areas. The CABI project is applying knowledge from Coffee Berry Borer management in African and Latin American countries to create a country-specific management program with an emphasis on Integrated Pest Management techniques and training for farmers in order to combat the Coffee Berry Borer. A recent paper published this year highlights the potential for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs in the management of Coffee Berry Borer, using a case study from a large coffee plantation in Colombia. Farm managers and harvest workers received training workshops on pest management strategies based on prior research and the recommendations of the National Coffee Research Center in Columbia in order to implement effective IPM strategies.

The Coffee Berry Borer completes most of its life cycle within coffee berries, meaning that hazardous chemical insecticides with a fumigant action such as Endosulfan are frequently used by farmers as these are some of the only chemical insecticides which can effectively kill the insects. However there is concern over the use of  such chemicals, both for the environment and for the safety of the farmers applying them. Therefore the Colombian IPM training program focuses on cultural practices and biological techniques along with establishing a monitoring program to reduce the use of chemical insecticide while maintaining effective control of the pest. The key aim of the project was to implement and evaluate the program among smallholder farmers some of the following management techniques:

Coffee Berries © Biodiversity International via Flickr (License CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)

1)    Regular picking of mature berries every 2-3 weeks throughout the year

2)    Regular monitoring of Coffee Berry Borer populations by sampling trees within plantations to provide farmers with regular and reliable information to help with identifying which areas need targeting for insecticide application or which areas need harvesting.

3)    Natural enemies. The Coffee Berry Borer has numerous natural enemies, including the fungus Beauvaria bassiana, which under optimum conditions can be a highly effective control measure.

4)    Postharvest pest control such as collecting old berries, trapping Coffee Berry Borers using bait traps and spraying with biological insecticides such as Beauvaria bassiana

The study has shown that coffee berry borer can potentially be successfully managed using an integrated approach with minimal imput of broad spectrum insecticides, providing there is some initial investment for added labour costs involved with monitoring and harvesting the crop. The challenge now is to demonstrate to farmers and land managers how the IPM techniques work and to continue improving the techniques so that they can be implemented in a growing number of countries to  manage the Coffee Berry Borer in an effective and sustainable way.


Aristiz√°bal, L. (2012). Implementing an Integrated Pest Management Program for Coffee Berry Borer in a Specialty Coffee Plantation in Colombia Journal of Integrated Pest Management, 3 (1) DOI: 10.1603/IPM11006

‘Stopping the Coffee Berry Borer in it’s Tracks’, CABI

‘An Integrated Pest Management Program for the Coffee Berry Borer in Columbia’, Entomological Society of America¬†

‘Coffee Berry Borer Thriving Due to Climate Change’, (2011), Plantwise Blog


  1. Anne-Claire Degail on 7th November 2012 at 8:48 AM

    Thanks for this interesting post.

    An Indonesian company specialising in biocontrol has developped a pheromone trap for the coffee berry borer, which could maybe be included in the IPM strategies highlighted in this article.

    More information on the product:


  2. Charlotte Elston on 7th November 2012 at 9:16 AM

    Thanks for that information Anne-Claire, as you say pheromone traps such as the one you mention could be effectively used as part of an IPM program for coffee berry borer management. Thank you for your interest in the post

  3. Luigi Guarino on 9th November 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Have there been studies of what climate change will do to the distribution of the pest?

    • Charlotte Elston on 9th November 2012 at 2:28 PM

      Hi Luigi,
      Thank you for your interest in this post. Yes there has been research in that area, the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya have recently published research on the implications and influence of climate change on the coffee berry borer in East Africa. The research suggests that temperature rises in East Africa have already increased damage to coffee crops and the coffee berry borer has expanded its distribution range, so with further climate change it could be expected that the pest will become a bigger problem in areas in many African countries such as Ethiopia, Mt Kenya region, Lake Victoria Region, Rwanda and Burundi. It is thought that similar outcomes could be expected in other coffee producing regions.

      Here are some links to research published on this:


  4. Never rains but it pours on 10th November 2012 at 2:36 PM

    […] Coffee Berry Borer too. Integrated pest management is showing some promise, but, as a comment on a recent Plantwise post reminds us, the effect of climate change on the pest is “forecasted to worsen in the […]

  5. […] Bean and Gone – Controlling the Coffee Berry Borer Using Integrated Pest ManagementIn “Agriculture” […]

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  7. JOPESTKIL KENYA on 26th March 2020 at 4:49 PM

    The pest control industry is constantly researching new technologies and products that will advance the way we prevent and manage pests. And as these treatment and monitoring developments evolve, the overarching goal is to also decrease the impacts they have on the environment and on non-target creatures, as well as the economic impact on bottom lines. What’s more, they may even change the way we communicate about pest control.

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