By Clint Thompson
Pepper weevils are once again a problem for pepper growers in the Southeast. Weevils are a problem wherever present, whether it is in high populations or low populations.
“Anytime you have pepper weevil it’s a problem and in very low populations because of the contamination. High populations can cause fruit abscission. It can hurt your yields considerably. But even low populations just because the potential contamination causes marketability problems,” University of Georgia Cooperative Extension vegetable entomologist Stormy Sparks said. “We’ve had some fields where we’ve had enough to collect populations which is pretty bad.”
Prevention Is Key
Sparks said there are a limited number of pesticides available that are relatively effective.
“Pepper weevil is difficult to control just because it’s a weevil, its biology. The only stage you can control is the adults. Once it lays an egg, you don’t get a shot at that particular insect until it’s an adult again,” Sparks said. “The egg is inside the fruit. The larvae is inside the fruit. It pupae inside the fruit. It emerges inside the fruit. Then when it comes out looking for a mate, you’ve got to try to kill it before it mates and starts laying eggs,” Sparks said. “With pepper weevil, it’s basically preventative. You try to prevent establishment in a field. Once they become established in a field, it’s almost impossible to spray your way out of it.”
According to a prior story on pepper weevils, they were out of control in Florida vegetable fields along the East Coast.
“Pepper weevil, which five years ago was not a consistent problem, but it’s been a consistent problem the last three years. We’re overwintering them,” Sparks said. “Pepper growers are fighting pepper weevils on a consistent basis.”