Coming back from our area wheat meeting Wednesday, Colquitt County Ag Agent Amber Arrington and I stopped in Pavo to look at some bell peppers where Tim Flanders had found pepper weevils. These beetles get inside the fruit as it is developing and oviposit. Once eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the seeds. This problem is first noticed by observing spots where peppers are aborted. Aborted peppers is not necessarily ID feature of weevils since the plant can abort fruit during dry conditions. Cracking open smaller fruit reveals black frass from larvae (Above).
We found a few larvae and pupae. Here is a photo of a pupae taken by Amber Arrington:
At this point, all growers can do is use pyrethroids to knock down adult weevils. UGA Extension Vegetable Entomologist Dr. Stormy Sparks says they are typically long lived as adults. They can overwinter here during a mild winter. A hard winter like last year would knock them back.
Pepper weevils are usually imported. They also reproduce on nightshade. If you have a gap between planting bell peppers, weevils do not do well with heat.
Dr. Sparks advises if planting in Spring to start with clean transplants. If you have a history of pepper weevils, make an insecticide application before they reproduce. They reporudce on buds and fruit, but prefer buds. Make application when you see buds. Prior to reproduction, they feed on leaves. Once the eggs are laid, there is nothing you can do until adults come. Systemic products mostly travel through xylem, but fruit is fed through phloem.
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