Written by Naomi Sager
Upon strolling through garden one day recently, we noticed one of our newly planted flowers was looking less than stellar.
Upon closer investigation, we discovered that the rather droopy and generally sad looking plant (as well as its less-affected neighbors) had aquired some unwanted residents: weevils!
Weevils are quite small (appropriately 6mm), and are herbivores, hence their munching on our flowers.
Weevils possess what is called a rostrum, which is essentially an elongated snout with chewing mouthparts. With this handy snout, they typically excavate “tunnels”, of sorts, into the plant on which they reside, as well as munching holes into their leaves of the affected plants.
If not tended to, their destructive behaviours will soon cause their host plant to die. In fact, they’re so effective at killing plants, that in some cases, farmers intentionally introduce them to particular crops, as a method of biological control for weeds invading the intended crop.
(image courtesy of Iowa State University Department of Entomology)
Weevils lay their larvae at the base of plants, typically slightly buried within the plant’s roots.
Interestingly, the weevil is primarily nocturnal, although they do operate during the day, albeit with less enthusiasm (we have typically noticed them in the mornings, crawling up the stems near the plants’ flowers).
Interestingly, one of the most effective treatments for severe weevil infestations has been found to be the introduction of nematodes (microscopic worms) into the soil, where they then attack and kill the weevils. Chickens and similar fowl have also proven to be an effective treatment for weevil infestations (sadly not an option for us here!).
In an effort to irradicate the weevils from our affected flowers, we have been examining the plants daily and removing any weevils we see, then placing the weevils in a cup of soapy water, where they meet their demise. We also had to cut off the flowering stalk of the most affected plant, as it had a number of weevils residing in its nooks and crannies.
As a preventative measure, we’ve also sprinkled diatomaceous earth around the plants, in an effort to inhibit any further spread of the dreaded weevils.
Hopefully our efforts will prove successful, and the weevil will soon be irradicated from our flowers!