Pepper Weevil Woes

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Pepper weevil has been a problematic pest in Georgia peppers, and now it appears to be moving into other crops. David Riley, a professor of entomology at the University of Georgia, has been studying pepper weevil since he received his doctorate nearly 30 years ago, and he was shocked to see this pest spread to other hosts.

According to Riley, pepper is one of Georgia’s top vegetables, so managing pepper weevil is crucial. “In recent years, we’ve had more and more instances of pepper weevil in our fields,” he said. Once weevils infest the crop, they can cause major loss. Riley said if the infestation is severe enough, all of the fruit can be knocked off of the plant.

According to Riley, there have been recent detections of pepper weevil in eggplant. “It took me by surprise,” he said.

Riley studied an isolated eggplant field that was infested with pepper weevil. “We started to look at it more closely and found that they (pepper weevils) don’t reproduce well in the fruit, but you can get a small amount of reproduction in the eggplant flowers. So that explained why we had reproduction inside the eggplant field,” he explained. Riley and his team will be watching this issue closely in the coming years.

Regarding management, Riley said the key is preventing pepper weevil from getting into the field in the first place. Sanitation is a big part of preventing pepper weevil from carrying over in the field from the fall crop into the spring crop.

Riley said having a good spray program is also critical to preventing pepper weevil. “Applications beginning at first flower will be really critical,” he concluded.

Hear more from Riley:

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Dan Cooper

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