A small number of pepper weevils have been found in Southwestern Ontario (Essex/Kent region) this spring. Although this pest does not overwinter in Ontario fields (it requires living hosts year round to survive), its presence could be of concern to field pepper growers this season.The adult lays eggs in the wall of the pepper fruit. When the larva emerges, it goes directly inside the fruit and therefore is difficult to detect and cannot be reached with insecticides. 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
Pheromone traps are available to assist in monitoring for this pest. Contact an IPM supplier to see if they carry them. A partial list of pest monitoring equipment suppliers can be found on the OMAFRA website at http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/resource/pestmonitor_equip.htm. 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, the adults could be present on transplants, and thus 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 replaced every two weeks or as needed if dirt or insects build up. Traps should be in place before bloom.
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.
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