Janice LeBoeuf, OMAFRA Vegetable Crop Specialist, Ridgetown
The CFIA has recently release a pest risk management document on pepper weevil. For background: “In 2010 pepper weevil was detected in several pepper greenhouses in Ontario. The CFIA decided that, it would be prudent to have a closer look at the risk posed by this pest and to document the regulatory decision and improve transparency on this issue. In May 2010, a Pest Categorization was completed and determined that Anthonomus eugenii Cano, pepper weevil, does not meet the minimum criteria defining quarantine pest. The CFIA has therefore determined that no regulatory action is necessary with respect to this pest in Canada.” [Pest Risk Management Document – Anthonomus eugenii (pepper weevil), Canadian Food Inspection Agency]
You can read the entire document at http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/plaveg/protect/rmd/rmd-10-28e.shtml.
This pest does not overwinter in Ontario fields (it requires living hosts year round to survive), so its presence would be of concern to field pepper growers only if it escaped a greenhouse/packing shed or was present on waste plant material transported from these operations during the growing season.
The adult lays eggs in the wall of the pepper fruit. The larva emerges and moves directly into the fruit, so it is difficult to detect and is protected from insecticide applications. Eggs may also be laid on flowers and buds. Adults feed on fruit and flowers, but prior to flowering, they will feed on stems and leaves. The most serious concerns are for the presence of larvae in the fruit and premature fruit drop due to adult and larval activity. The pest could complete several generations through the growing season.
Host plants include peppers, nightshade, and eggplant. It will also feed on tomato, petunia, horsenettle, and other solanaceous weeds.
Monitoring for Pepper Weevil
The CFIA has concluded that “pepper weevil could be introduced to Canada by the importation of infested pepper fruit, pepper transplants, and used pepper crates/packing boxes….Greenhouse facilities that import peppers from infested areas are likely to encounter pepper weevil.” The risk of this pest in field peppers is low and risk would only exist where pepper fields are near greenhouse/packing shed operations that receive imported pepper fruit. Untreated plant material transported from these operations could also be a concern for nearby field peppers. The Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers have implemented a monitoring/management protocol for pepper weevil to protect their crops and nearby field crops.
If you have a concern, pheromone traps are available to assist in monitoring for this pest. A partial list of pest monitoring equipment suppliers can be found OMAFRA’s website. You will need the pheromone lure and a yellow sticky card (available as a kit from Trécé suppliers).
These traps can be used both in field and in the transplant greenhouse. Although damage to transplants by the adult is not a concern, if adults were present on transplants, they could be transported to the field. In field, two traps should be used per acre. Traps should be placed 3-4 rows into the field to intercept adults as they move into the field. In areas of pepper weevil activity, traps are usually placed either on the downwind side or on the side of the field where weevils may be moving in from (eg. patches of solanaceous weeds, fields with host crops, cull piles). Lures need to be replaced every 4-6 weeks. Traps should be in place before bloom and should be replaced every two weeks or as needed if dirt or insects build up.
When field scouting, inspect flower bud clusters for damage and the plants for the presence of adults. Fallen fruit can be cut open to look for larvae.
More information and photos can be found at: http://www.ent.uga.edu/veg/solanaceous/pepperweevil.htm.